My friend James used to be a personal trainer. He often posts pictures on social media of himself working out. Even when he’s working hard, he is usually smiling. If most of us were in his place, we probably wouldn’t be. Training takes discipline, and discipline can be uncomfortable.
In today’s reading, the author of the book of Hebrews compares an athlete’s experience to that of Christ’s disciples. He notes that there are two kinds of discipline involved for both. One is the personal discipline required to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (v. 1). This is a course set for us by God. He knows the difficulties we experience and has permitted them to enter our lives for our good. An athlete endures the discomfort of training to reach a desired goal. Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before him” (v. 2). We must do the same so that we do not lose heart and give up (v. 3).
The other type of discipline is corrective. This is the sort of training a parent does with their child (vv. 5–6). In both cases, the experience often comes in the form of hardship (v. 7). We should not think that God has abandoned us when difficulties enter our lives. The opposite is the case. We are training “for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness” (v. 10). God Himself is our personal trainer. Even better, God is our loving Father. His only goal is to give us life and make us more like His Son Jesus Christ. We have nothing to fear from Him.
The application of verses 12–13 employs figurative language that encourages us to look at our hardships and struggles differently. We must endure hardship with an eye on God.
>> How do you see your circumstances? Can you discern the hand of God in them? As we discover things about ourselves that need to be changed, we must submit to His discipline.
We know You discipline us in love. Though it is a painful process, please continue Your discipline. We love You more than we love comfort and we want to be more like You. May we produce a harvest of love and peace.