California State Cross Country Meet, 2015; Fresno, California
March 30, 2022
In our world today, everyone seems to be chasing after comfort, money, pleasure, freedom from pain and discomfort, and a peaceful life without want. This will lead to happiness, we think, because pain and deprivation make us unhappy. Unfortunately, we have it all backwards! This world was designed and created by God so that pain and discomfort are unalterably embedded in all parts of life. Our efforts to completely eliminate them will only result in frustration and failure. They are here to stay, as the elimination of one form of pain inevitably leads to another. We can see this proclaimed with utmost clarity in the following scripture passages from Romans, Chapter 8:
“Yes, we know that all creation groans and is in agony even until now. Not only that, but we ourselves, although we have the Spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies.” Verses 22-23
“And hoping for what we cannot see means awaiting it with patient endurance.” Verse 25
The words used in these passages: groans, agony, and endurance, indicate how deeply felt, intense, and long lasting that pain can manifest itself in our lives. And it is our physical bodies which inflict the pain and agony upon us–until we die and our spirits escape! Yes, our bodies are our slave drivers here on earth, God purposely made it that way.
When God designed life for human beings here on earth, he made it so that we live in two distinct worlds simultaneously. He accomplished that by creating each man’s spirit from a part of himself, and then pouring it into a living physical body which he formed from the earth. The result was a human being who is part spirit and part body, which are permanently joined here on earth until they are ultimately separated at death, and the body discarded. His purpose for having men live in two separate worlds at the same time like this, was to teach them the differences between good and evil, and give them the choice to pick one or the other. This resulted in our world, where there is an unending battle for control between forces aligned with good and those aligned with evil. This ‘world war’, so to speak, will go on indefinitely until the end of this age, when God will destroy forever this physical realm in which we live today.
Scriptures characterize life on earth as the great period of trial. Here, humans find themselves personally bathed in the results of both evil, such as the current war between Russia and Ukraine with all its destruction, pain, and death; and good, such as organizations dedicated to lifting people out of extreme poverty, and treating in hospitals those suffering from ravaging diseases.
In our world, pain and suffering play an integral part in our education concerning what evil actually consists of and why we must reject it at all costs. In essence, we find that given enough time, evil inevitably results in pain and suffering of some kind, or even death. We live in a world fully mixed, with evil intertwined with good. Suffering and pain are not only associated with evil, but can also be probably the most effective tools that God uses to bring good into our lives. This brings us to the meaning embedded in the title of this article: God Scourges Every Son He Receives. A couple of scriptures from the Old Testament Proverbs serve to get our understanding started:
“Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge. Withhold not chastisement from a boy; if you beat him with the rod, he will not die. Beat him with the rod, and you will save him from the nether world (Hell).” Proverbs 23, 12-14
“Evil is cleansed away by bloody lashes, and a scourging to the inmost being.” Proverbs 20, 30
These two descriptive and rather brutal remedies of old, used to extract evil from one’s inmost being, point to the importance of getting rid of evil here on earth while we still have the choice to reject it. If we don’t set ourselves against evil while we still can during our temporary and short existence here on earth, we may eventually find ourselves the victims of suffering torment in hell forever in eternity. And the sad and humiliating reality is that we will have put ourselves there by our own free choices! Yes, in hell we become permanent victims of ourselves! As I’ve said in previous articles, the pain and suffering we experience in hell comes primarily from others, like ourselves, who willingly chose evil over good on earth. The creatures that are confined together in hell, torment each other forever. This torment is often symbolized by fire in scriptures. And once you are there, there are no remedies for change and no hope! A great scripture passage useful to help dissuade us from performing evil deeds on earth is found in the gospel of Matthew: (Jesus speaking)
“What terrible things will come on the world through scandal! It is inevitable that scandal should occur. Nevertheless, woe to that man through whom scandal comes! If you hand or foot is your undoing, cut it off and throw it from you! Better to enter life maimed or crippled than be thrown with two hands or two feet into endless fire. If your eye is your downfall, gouge it out and cast it from you! Better life with one eye than be thrown with both into fiery Gehenna (Hell).” Matthew 18, 7-9
Yes, God uses pain here on earth to keep us away from evil and perhaps ending up in hell forever. Pain here on earth, therefore, can actually be our friend if we accept it and see it in its proper context. God mercifully scourges us to rid us of the many sins that we tend to cling to, and all who learn from it and take it to heart, will be forever thanking him in heaven for that very pain that they may have loathed in life. Yes, pain can be very difficult to endure, but when God allows it in your life, he does it out of love for us. And don’t forget, we do not suffer in pain alone for our sins. Jesus also suffered for the forgiveness of every one of our sins by his gruesome suffering and death by crucifixion on a cross meant for criminals! He was humiliated and punished for the forgiveness of our sins–if that doesn’t prove his love for us, then I can’t imagine anything that could demonstrate it better. In the book of Hebrews, Chapter 12, we get a heartfelt description of the tender caring of Jesus for all mankind, through his loving sacrifice of himself on the cross:
“….., let us lay aside every encumbrance of sin which clings to us and persevere in running the race which lies ahead; let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith. For the sake of the joy which lay before him he endured the cross, heedless of its shame.” Hebrews 12, 1-3
In the above verse, it is interesting to note that because of the ‘joy which lay before him’, Jesus ‘endured the cross’. And what was that future joy that spurred him on? That he would have forged a path to heaven for all repentant sinners. He rejoices greatly in heaven each time a human being makes it in! What kind of person would reject such a loving God?
And lastly, the following verses teach us how we should view God’s discipline, and what awaits those who willingly submit and endure:
“Moreover, you have forgotten the encouraging words addressed to you as sons: ‘My sons, do not distain the discipline of the Lord nor lose heart when he reproves you; he scourges every son he receives.’ Endure your trials as the discipline of God who deals with you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you do not know the discipline of sons, you are not sons but bastards. If we respected our earthly fathers who corrected us, should we not all the more submit to the Father of spirits and live? They disciplined us as seemed right to them, to prepare us for the short span of mortal life; but God does so for our true profit, that we may share his holiness.” Hebrews 12, 5-10
Yes, life on earth can be hard, and sometimes extremely hard; but know that it doesn’t even come close to your enduring spending an eternity confined in the torments of Hell, where you will be living with literally hoards of the most evil and vile beings imaginable! Think about it and count the cost.
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