Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 69:1-23 (24-30) 31-38 (Morning)
Psalm 73 (Evening)
Hardship as Discipline
If the Bible teaches us anything about real life it is that everyone is going to endure hardship. The Psalms written are a combination of praise to God and expressions of woes of the world and enemies to overcome. Even God’s son Jesus had to navigate carefully in the world and pick his proper time to spread his message. His enemies were real and he knew the timing was crucial. Today, people all over the world are going through many types of hardships. There is political turmoil, racism, terrorism, and inequality. Why can’t God save us from all of these things?
Hebrews 12 sheds a little bit of light on this. We read that we are to endure hardship as discipline from God. What does that mean? What have we done wrong to deserve all of these troubles in life? Are we suffering because of something we have done and we are being punished for sin? I don’t think God necessarily works that way. Like a good parent, God is not going to save us from failure. 12:10 reads “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. ” Maybe God is saying that our failures have the opportunity to make us stronger. Each decision we make has ramifications – some are good, some are bad.
This life is a training ground for resilience: fighting every day struggles, standing up for what we believe to be fair, helping others suffering from inequality and courageously voicing our beliefs. We are going to slip up and struggle with the issues of today. God promises to be here for us but he is not providing a safety net. 12:12 says “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
Through hardship and with God’s guidance we have the opportunity every day to become stronger, bring healing to others, and make good decisions that will positively affect others’ lives. Psalm 73:24 says “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.”
Written by Aubrey Mitchell Pate
Aubrey was baptized, confirmed and married at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Hot Springs, AR. She and her husband have been attending St. Paul’s for 19 years. She is currently a member of the Vestry and a Sunday school teacher.