God’s Discipline in Motherhood

I have been learning about trials, and how they relate to the Lord’s discipline. I know God is using trials in my life as of late. The following text comes from the book of Hebrews 12:3-12.

3 Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted

4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 

5 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.

6 For the Lord disciplines the one He loves,
    and chastises every son whom He receives.”

7 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? 

8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 

9 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? 

10 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. 

11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 

13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed

Easter Sunday 2021

I hope that by the end of this post, you might see how God uses His hand of discipline in motherhood. Of course, as in all my writing, I am talking to myself here. I need to process my thoughts.

Personally, I always thought of this section in the book of Hebrews as talking about the trials and persecutions that come from living the Christian life, and that is certainly the context in this epistle. These believers are facing intense persecution, and some are not even willing to gather with the church anymore (Hebrews 10:25).

I guess I had always associated the word discipline as something negative, as something that yes, you have to endure, as verse 7 says.

7 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?

The Lord loves you, and He is your Father, therefore He will discipline you – like a spiritual spanking of sorts – to grow you in holiness. That is also what verse 10 says.

10 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. 

God does this because we ARE legitimate children, and He is treating us as sons. So in my head, I think I thought, “You may not like the discipline,  but it is good for you, so… you are gonna have to suck it up, Buttercup.”

But I was wrong in considering discipline as only trials and persecutions, and bad providences. Particularly bad providences. I saw those as the Lord getting even with me. You know, I KNOW God’s wrath has been spent on Christ on my behalf, but I mean, what if the Lord considered it wise to bring some suffering my way in order to make me holy? Or what if I actually sinned in such way that the Lord chastised me with bad providences in order to get my attention? That is not at all unbiblical. It happened in the life of David as a result of his adultery with Bathsheba. Their first baby died as a direct consequence of their sin.

Maybe I did do something wrong or thought some things about the Lord that I shouldn’t have, and therefore I am experiencing what I am experiencing as a result. Honestly, though, if the Lord got even with me for every moment I don’t worship Him or think highly enough of Him as He truly deservers, I would be dead. Like DEAD.

The trials in my life lately have taught me to trust the Lord completely. I have put down the guard that unconsciously had developed in my heart. I know God does not afflict me from His heart (Lamentations 3: 33). He does bring suffering directly and indirectly – I can see that clearly in the Scriptures – but it is never as revenge or to get even. He brings suffering into my life because He loves me. He cares for me. And to the world of unbelievers, that makes no sense at ALL.

And I also think some believers recoil at the idea of a God who from all eternity decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself; that He did this by the perfectly wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, and yet God did this in such a way that He is neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any in their sin – THAT GOD is almost a monster in their minds. But I cannot see it any other way. It would be terrifying to have it any other way. I know that God declares the end from the beginning, and that He accomplishes His purpose – even in my pain (Isaiah 46:10).  

Job knew this. He knew the LORD gave, and the LORD took it away. He still blessed the LORD (Job 1:21). Job knew he was receiving evil – really bad life circumstances – from the LORD (Job 2:10, 42:11). I could say the same about Joseph, all his sufferings had a purpose. Some of the sweetest and most humble and gracious people that I know – that I aspire to be like – have suffered a great deal. Ever since I was pregnant with Danny, it’s like I was on alert. I was thinking, “When will it be my turn to experience some suffering?” I have never suffered for my faith, and God has been so good to me, that you know, I was like, “What are you going to do next, Lord? Are you going to take this baby away? Are you going to take my husband away? Are you going to allow cancer to invade my body? What are you going to do? I need suffering, and it’s like I know it might come sooner or later…”

Elizabeth Elliot is so gracious, I think, in her definition of suffering. She defines it as having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have. I call it gracious because in my opinion it allows for a lot of first world problems. She experienced my worst fear times three – she lost three husbands. So when I read her book, Suffering Is Never For Nothing, I think I have never really suffered. But Elizabeth herself says she had not suffered like others had. She once knew a mother whose four year-old had spina bifida, and some tests revealed that the child that she was pregnant with would also have spina bifida. Nancy Guthrie lost her six month-old daughter due to a metabolic disorder. Her husband got a vasectomy, but the procedure reversed itself, and their second son also died when he was six months old due to the same metabolic disorder.

I can’t imagine having to bury two children one after another. I can’t imagine burying my husband. But I also suffer. My suffering might look different than theirs, but it is the suffering that God ordained for my life. And I am not confused. God is good. It just hurts, and it is okay that it hurts. There are situations in my life that I would have never chosen to go through, but it is precisely those that God is using for my ultimate blessing.

Regardless of the many reasons for my suffering, I think this has helped me realize that God is close to the broken-hearted. Just as God ordained the death of Lazarus for the glory of God (John 11:4), Jesus also was deeply moved and greatly troubled. He suffered with them (John 11:33). God can bring suffering directly and suffer with you. It is not either/or, it is both/and.

In my sadness I have discovered a new face of God that I had never seen, and it is a sweet face. I have not blamed Him or get angry with Him, if anything I am angry at sin, and death. Death should not be part of this world, but somehow it is. Sin has destroyed everything, and I find myself longing for heaven in ways that I had never done before.

It isn’t explanations that we need. It’s a person. We need Jesus Chrsit, our refuge, our fortress, the stronghold of my life. It takes desolation to teach us our need of Him.

Elisabeth Elliot

I think that was a long background for what I was trying to say: suffering is not necessarily always a direct result of wrong-doing. And I think I always associated the word discipline with bad consequences. But my pastor taught me the other day that discipline, really, involves the whole act of training up a child in the ways of the Lord.

Discipline involves the rearing of a child, the training up, the instruction, the rebuke, and yes, the chastisement. In a word, discipline is the proper instruction that trains someone to reach full development – full maturity. It involves much of what we think for the purpose of education. 

That’s what we do with our little ones, right? We spank them, but not only that. We correct them, we encourage them, we love them, we educate them in the Lord-  because we want them to be spiritually mature. So with this in mind, I want to encourage you today, and again, I’m talking to myself here… Where is God putting His finger in your life today?

You may not have children yet, or maybe you are en empty-nester. You may have never had children, but if you are God’s child, He is disciplining you. He is always training you. 

Behind every tear we have shed for our little ones when we see them in pain,

Or behind every prayer that we have prayed so that the Lord will bring them to Himself,

Or behind the sleepless nights when they are sick at the hospital,

Or behind the infertility or the many miscarriages,

Behind the exhaustion of potty training, or changing the diaper for the 20th time a day, 

Or behind our children’s disrespect, or their sinful choices as adults…

Behind all that, God is training us to achieve full maturity as His children. He is training us through our present circumstances -whatever they might be – to fully become what He wants us to be. And what is that exactly? What does God want to achieve in us? 

Ephesians 1:4 says He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. That’s exactly what Hebrews 12:10 says, He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 

Romans 8: 28-29 says He works all things for the good of those who – what? Those who love Him – for those who have been called according to His purpose. And those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to – what? To the image of His Son. He is making us more and more like Christ. Becoming like Christ involves going through the Lord’s discipline.

Now, I don’t know all the details of your life, there are great joys in motherhood. Nursing, your baby giggling for the first time, your child walking, or your children actually playing with one another. Sometimes we take those for granted, don’t we? I know I do. So enjoy those great moments. Cherish them and praise the Lord every morning for them. Thank Him. Make a habit or remembering the goodness and mercy of God. 

Where is God putting His finger in your life today?

Elisabeth Elliot

But temptations to be forgetful will come specially when things are not going that well. So like I said at the very beginning of Hebrews 12:3, Consider Him, who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Whatever season it is that you are in, do not take His discipline lightly, or despise it, as Hebrews 12:5 says. You see, the writer of Hebrews is quoting from Proverbs 3:11-12. I think the danger with discipline is that when we are going through it, we might either take it lightly (we might despise it/hate it), or we actually may become so discouraged that we will feel that we cannot go on. We might become weary. 

And I also think that’s why the author of Hebrews gives us in Hebrews 12:6 (that accords to Proverbs 3:12) the reason to persevere. The reason we are able to endure is not because we Suck it, up buttercup. The reason is that the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives. If you are in Christ, God loves you with an everlasting, electing love that He only gives to His children, and that’s why He is training you, because He wants you to become like His Son. So we endure it with joy.

Hebrews 12:2 says we endure in the race by looking at Jesus. We set aside the sin that entangles us, and we focus on Him. He endured because of the joy that was set before Him, He despised the shame of the cross. I think looking inward or looking at others will disappoint us dearly, so we ought to consider ONLY Him. He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).

There are many more things that I wish I could say, but for now I guess I’ll just finish by saying this:

My God is always good. He makes no mistakes, and everything that has happened and will happen in my life happens because He considered it necessary for my training as His child. He loves me, and His discipline is one of fatherly love. I know that now. That actually makes me happy and able to find joy in the midst of the trials of this life. I don’t know the reasons of why things happen, and I don’t really think I need to know or that I could handle it. But I know the One who holds the universe by the word of His power, and I trust Him completely.

Trial, to speak plainly, is the instrument by which our Father in heaven makes Christians more holy. By trial He calls out their passive graces and proves whether they can suffer His will as well as do it. By trial He weans them from the world, draws them to Christ, drives them to the Bible and prayer, shows them their own hearts, and makes them humble. This is the process by which He “prunes” them and makes them more fruitful. The lives of the saints in every age are the best and truest comment on the text. Never, hardly, do we find and eminent saint, either in the Old Testament or the New, who was not purified by suffering and, like His Master, a “man of sorrows.”

Learn us learn to be patient in the days of darkness, if we know anything of vital union with Christ. Let us remember the doctrine of the passage before us [John 15:1-6] and not murmur and complain because of trials. Our trials are not meant to do us harm, but good. God chastens us “for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Fruit is the thing that our Master desires to see in us, and He will not spare the pruning knife if He sees we need it. In the last day we shall see that all was well done.

J.C.Ryle, Expository Thoughts on The Gospel of John, p.268

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s