5And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
or lose heart when He rebukes you.
6For the Lord disciplines the one He loves,
and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.”a
7Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you do not experience discipline like everyone else, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Furthermore, we have all had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Should we not much more submit to the Father of our spirits and live?
10Our fathers disciplined us for a short time as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. 11No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a peaceful harvest of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12Therefore strengthen your limp hands and weak knees. 13Make straight paths for your feet, so that the lame will not be debilitated, but rather healed.
All Christians endure trial.
My problem with trial was usually not the trial itself but my exceedingly Old Testament view that trial meant that the Lord was angry with me. Good times meant I was doing well, bad times meant I was one step away from being accursed. How many times I wondered if I was Esau to my brother’s Jacob? The burden of disappointing my Father was more than any earthly trial I could imagine.
I would, as a contemplative, instantly turn my gaze inward, struggling to find every failure of mine (and there are many) but also hide from the Lord, groveling and cowering and not allowing His love to soothe me and His strength to empower me and His mercy to heal me.
This is wrong. I am no longer under the Old Covenant, with its harshly clear justice.
I am, through the blood of Jesus, under the New Covenant in which I am at once perfect forever yet still being made holy. I am under no condemnation yet still enduring hardship as discipline–not from a wrathful God, but from a loving Father who is wiser than my weakness and the enemy that would exploit it.
I am a victim and victor. I am weak yet strong. This life is slowly ebbing my strength and health and my body will die, but I am more than a conqueror.
So I am reframing my idea of trial. Instead of crumbling under the trial because I fear the wrath of my most beloved Father, I am going to stand strong in the face of it for His glory. I can handle loss of everything but Him. I am going to consider trial my proving ground, my battlefield.
I would rather, if I am honest, have peace and joy and tend to my vines, have a healthy bank account and a healthier doctor’s report, see my children carefree and protected and my flocks undisturbed by predators.
But that is not life now. I am in the battle. I can’t hide from it. I can’t curl up and whimper. I can’t run.
I can put on some psych up music and the full armor of God. I can gird my loins and strap on the shield of faith. I can tie my hair back into battle mode and grasp the Sword of the Spirit.
I can’t escape the battle, but I surely can win it in the Lord.