Posted on Dec 07, 2018 by Mike LeDuke
If God is your Father, then life will be smooth sailing, right? Everything will be blissful — how could it not be, with the Ruler of the Universe behind you?
Except that Scripture makes it very clear that God calls His children to something entirely different. Those who follow God have signed up to a life that is going to be difficult. The Lord Jesus himself, the only begotten of God, explained this:
“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
In deciding to follow Christ, we are agreeing to take up our cross and actually follow his footsteps.
But why? Why is it that the Son of God suffered such things? Why is it that those of us who have become the children of God must endure such affliction and such tragedy? Shouldn’t having God as our Father count for something?
Indeed it does — but it counts for something very different than we might initially expect.
Because part of the reason that life is difficult, and part of the reason that we suffer is specifically because God is our Father.
In the last post, we considered Deuteronomy 8:2, in which God told the children of Israel that He made life difficult for them while they were in the wilderness––specifically to humble them. Consider what He said in the next few verses:
“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you” (Deuteronomy 8:3-5).
Indeed, the writer to the Hebrews takes this idea and shows that it does not just apply to the children of Israel, but also to all of those whom God loves:
“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:5-7).
Those whom God crushes are those whom He loves!
Why? The apostle explains: not only does God purposefully lead into temptation in order to chasten, but the chastening has a specific purpose:
“If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness” (Hebrews 12:8-10).
Just imagine that! Your suffering is proof that Almighty God wants you to take part in His holiness. God is holy and astonishingly, He wants to share that holiness with us! He wants to share His character, His distinctness, His righteousness with you! And that is why you suffer! If you didn’t suffer, then you wouldn’t truly be one of His children! What father doesn’t correct their child?
And thus our Father sometimes breaks us. Because He loves us (cp. Revelation 3:19).
But there’s more to it than that. And Lord willing, we’ll consider another aspect of this relationship and this process of suffering in the next post.