Enduring the Discipline of the Lord

I am re-publishing the Daily Devotion for today, 24 April 2016, from the Living Church Foundation’s Daily Devotion series whose editor is the Reverend Emily R. Hylden.  The Daily Devotion  and which provides a meditation on the scripture appointed for the day in the Episcopal Lectionary.  Today’s devotion is written by Leigh E. Miller and examines the “discipline of the Lord”  as discussed in Hebrews 12:1-14.  

Daily Devotional is a ministry of the Living Church Foundation.
Image licensed via Creative Commons.
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A Cloud of Witnesses
Daily Devotional • April 24
By Leigh E. Miller

“Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

“Amen, Brother,” I say. This chapter in Hebrews on discipline and facing hardship has much to be commended. However, this line says what is my reality in suffering most of the time. That is, I know that enduring the suffering that this world brings is central to the faithful Christian life, but I rarely have the demeanor to see past whatever pain that I am enduring. Applying the Scriptures to daily life, I’ve experienced childbirth as a prime example of this.

I had ideas going into labor with my first child of how I would handle the pain: nobly, with the relaxation techniques I had been taught. However, I left it all behind the first time a real wave of pain hit and instead relied upon a doula and a husband to hold me up and to remind me with each contraction that it was with intentional relaxation, not through tense fighting, that the pain and labor would pass most quickly.

As a neophyte in the Christian life, this seems to me how I often endure suffering. Someone stronger than me holds me up while another stands beside me and reminds me without tiring — not that the pain is not real — but what I can do to best endure what I undergo. Though I cannot see an end, those around me may know it’s there, and in knowing this can have the strength to hold me up and help me endure the very real moments of pain with the conviction of hope that the Lord brings goodness out of suffering.

Hebrews 12:1-14

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children— “My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; 6for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.” 7Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live?10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 14Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

 

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