First of all, we need to establish that not all discipline is negative or a result of sin or bad behavior. Many times discipline is not a reaction to behavior at all, but a proactive preparation for the future. I don’t always correct my son or daughter when they do something wrong. I correct them because I want them to be able to do something right. I desire that they share in something valuable. In fact, most God-given discipline, in my opinion, is future oriented. We are called disciples of Jesus because we are being disciplined or shaped into His likeness.
The Great Commission of Matthew 28 says to “Teach them to obey.” Discipline is about obeying as Jesus obeyed so that we can experience the life that Jesus experienced. You’ve heard the cliché that says everyone wants the triumph but nobody wants the trial. In the same way, everyone would welcome the power of Christ, but not everyone is willing to go through the pain of Christ. Don’t forget Jesus’s invitation to us is to “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” This is an invitation to power, provision and purpose. However, it IS also a cross.
Jesus, like many of my movie heroes, understood how to endure a tough season or moment. But neither Rocky, Rudy, or Rambo hold a candle to the endurance showed by Jesus during his life on Earth. He was, is, and will always be our greatest inspiration for enduring tough seasons.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-3
We discover in Hebrews 5:8 that “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” This is not to suggest that He sinned and had to learn how to obey. On the contrary it is to suggest that he stepped into the realities and rewards of obedience through His seasons of suffering. Discipline is not about punishment, but reward. God was teaching Jesus how to go after His destiny through the narrow path of obedience.
In my book “Rooted” I suggest that the desert precedes destiny, and the mop typically precedes the microphone. We can view at least two times when Jesus endured a desert season and triumphed gloriously; the 40 days in the wilderness and the cross. The one I would like to examine today, being Good Friday, is the Cross. Many of us are facing the toughest season of our lives. And like Jesus, we weren’t forced, but invited to this place. How will we endure the toughest seasons of life. Let me offer three thoughts on how to endure a tough season:
- Look To Jesus – No, really! Get a vision of His life and a picture of His humanity. I love explaining to my children the humanity of Jesus. When they get it, He is no longer like Santa Claus, but is a little more like Mom and Dad. When we look to Jesus we see a man who was tempted to give up and tempted to take short cuts. We see a man who truly had to overcome the emotions and the exhaustion of real life. When we remember His humanity, we are able to draw near vs. away from Him in times that we are tempted to give up. We are no longer ashamed and our hearts are strengthened by His humble and gentle response to our weakness.
- Know Your Joy – Get a vision of life after the trial. In other words, know your why behind your what. Your what may be the discipline, but your why is the desire. Why is God disciplining you and what will be different once you endure the tough season by putting one foot in front of the other? Endurance must be fueled by Encouragement. Endurance doesn’t just happen to human beings. Endurance is a byproduct of courage being deposited over and over again. I believe Jesus received courage from the Joy that was before Him. I believe He had an eternal perspective and vividly daydreamed about the age to come when billions would be at His wedding feast to see His glory. I know it can sound pie in the sky, but it’s not. Heaven is coming to Earth and God’s people are able to endure more than any other tribe on the planet because of the Joy set before us. Do you know your Joy? Jesus endured His cross because of the Joy and you can too. People who endure are people with Joy.
- Day By Day – It’s so tempting as an ambitious young man to try to eat the whole elephant. I want it and I want it now. Jesus was patient. He understood that His dream wouldn’t happen overnight. He understood the process. In our western conditioned minds, if we have to delay gratification, many times we lose the power to endure. We must learn the truth about “Daily Bread.” Allow me to insert a small portion of a devotional by Andrew Murray from his book “Abide,” chapter 14.
“And the people shall go out and gather the portion of a day in his day.” — Exodus 16:4
The day’s portion in its day: Such was the rule for God’s giving and man’s working in the ingathering of the manna. It is still the law in all the dealings of God’s grace with His children. A clear insight into the beauty and application of this arrangement is a wonderful help in understanding how one, who feels himself utterly weak, can have the confidence and the perseverance to hold on brightly through all the years of his earthly course. A doctor was once asked by a patient who had met with a serious accident: “Doctor, how long shall I have to lie here?” The answer, “Only a day at a time,” taught the patient a precious lesson. It was the same lesson God had recorded for His people of all ages long before: The day’s portion in its day.
One more thought on a practical note: I am in the habit of writing big picture words that Jesus is saying to me on my whiteboard where I can see them every day. This pulls me back into focus when my mind begins to wonder. Why not find a place that you will naturally look each day and write a few words that inspire you to stay with it?