I don’t know if you ever played sports or not, but if you did, you had a coach. Some coaches are there to help you have a good time, others are there to teach you the basics and others help you elevate your game. Those coaches demand a lot out of you, and sometimes get in your face and yell at you when you’re not giving it your all. They’re so hard on you at times that you feel like quitting, but at the same time you know that would disappoint them, and you definitely don’t want to do that. Their discipline and training cause you to respect them and make you want todo more. In the end, you’re a better player because they pushed you beyond what you saw in your abilities. Those coaches you remember for life.
Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of his faithful love. And when he draws you to himself, it proves you are his delightful child” (TPT). God is always training us and preparing us for our future. You might go through an intense training at 35 to prepare you for an intense battle at 50. His training conditions our mind and spirit to be ready for those times in our life. At times it seems harsh and you feel like quitting, but God encourages us through these times because He loves us. He draws more out of us and gives us the strength to endure more than we ever thought we could because His grace is sufficient for whatever you go through.
The deeper your pain or the harder your struggle is will give you greater insight into who God is because you get to experience the depth of His grace and character more. You may hit rock bottom in life, but you will never hit rock bottom of His grace. Your times of training and difficulties only prove how strong His grip on you is and how deeply He loves you. His training grounds and discipline are designed to teach you how to dig deeper in your faith so that when the really hard times come, you have an anchor of hope in Him. Instead of being driven away by the struggles, you stay firm in your faith and your relationship grows. God understands what we need in our training in order to take us to places and victories we would otherwise never know. Keep trusting Him. You are His child whom He loves and He’s drawing you closer to Himself.
One of the questions I like to ask groups is, “What motivates you more, pain or pleasure?” Honestly, the rooms are usually split on the question until I probe deeper. To those who say pleasure, I ask, “Why are you not on a beach somewhere right now?” It’s because the have to work right now. Then why not leave? It’s because the pain of losing their job keeps them from walking out and going to something pleasurable. Pain, or the threat of pain, is a far greater motivator than pleasure in our lives. That’s why since the beginning of time parents have used it to motivate their kids to obey through pain or threat of pain. Even God, our Heavenly Father, uses pain to motivate us and develop character in us.
Years ago I took an about face in my faith. I professed Jesus with my mouth, but my life was anything but living for Him. God tried the gentle whisper and conviction of the Holy Spirit to warn me to turn back around, but I failed to listen. As time went on, I started going through painful experiences, one after another, as God was trying to get my attention. He kept going until I couldn’t take it anymore and finally said, “Ok, God, you win. I give up.” Even though I turned back around, I still lived with the consequences of that period of my life, but God used them to develop character in me that was missing. He fundamentally reshaped me through the pain of that time. Like a good parent, He didn’t give up. His love kept coming after me and doing whatever it took to bring me back.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it” (TPT). It’s only when we yield that He can create the transformation in us. As long as we’re fighting and running from His purpose or calling on our life, He will do whatever it takes to bring us home so we can fulfill our purpose. Thank God He doesn’t stop chasing after us no matter how far we go. It’s a good thing, though it doesn’t seem like it at the time, that He will do whatever it takes to get your attention. I was pretty stubborn, but I’ve learned that the sooner we yield, the faster we see the harvest of His work in our lives.