Because He Cares

Laurie Buffo, Volunteer Writer, South Barrington | March 27, 2024

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:9-11

When our son was a senior in high school, he shocked me by thanking me for grounding him. While my jaw was still hanging open, he explained a friend had told him he wished his parents cared about what he was up to, even if it meant getting punished. He helped my son realize that discipline demonstrates loving concern. This concept is at the center of today’s passage. Chapter 12 of Hebrews encourages believers to persevere by thinking of hardship as God’s loving discipline. It is proof of our adoption as His sons and daughters.

Discipline is not usually the first thing mentioned when describing a loving parent. If we view God as an angry, punitive Father, it is because we associate His correction with human anger and punishment. However, unlike human anger, God’s outrage is not motivated by pride. It is righteous and driven by love. God focuses on making everything become as it should be, including His children.

Human parents often get stuck in a battle of wills and operate in “because I said so” mode. We can demand respect or become too focused on how our children’s behavior reflects on us. We are worried about our image, but God desires to conform us to His image. As verse 10 tells us, our human fathers disciplined us as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good so that we can share in His holiness. It is all about His children becoming more like Jesus.

Not all trials are the consequences of our sins, but many are. Whatever the cause, we can make the most of this testing by asking God what He wants us to learn. What fruit of the Spirit is He trying to develop in us? What behaviors does He want us to change? Once the answer becomes clear, we should step out of our old ways and clothe ourselves in God’s ways (Ephesians 4:22-24). As we become more like Jesus, perceived threats to our reputation less often incite anger. We defend our image less frequently and reflect God’s holiness and peace instead. Then, we become better parents, children, spouses, friends, and co-workers.

When discussing difficult seasons, Christians often point out that our faith grows stronger as we trust in God’s goodness despite our circumstances. Part of the process is to learn what changes we need to make. We come to understand current pain in terms of future growth. Like my son’s friend, we realize the Father chastens the ones He loves. Then in sunshine or in rain, we know we are His beloved children.

Next Steps

Read Hebrews 12:1-12. Which verses or phrases stand out to you and why? How do they support or change your view of God’s anger? What lessons do past or present trials have for you?