“Endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as his children…we have all had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live? They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” Hebrews 12:7, 9-10
Hardship, discipline, fathers…these words can be loaded with a myriad of images, some not super positive. Hardship and discipline? No thanks. Our culture, in and outside of the Church, does everything possible to avoid difficulty. Comfort is king. And I know I don’t have to harp on the idea that “father” does not invoke warm, loving feelings for everybody. How do we do as the body of Christ in our unique time and place in history respond to hardship, welcome discipline, and reclaim the beauty of fatherhood? And what is Lifeline doing to help?
We must first allow ourselves to accept that we are God’s kids.
Whether you’re an unborn baby or pushing 100, you’re a child of God. He is treating you as His son or daughter, for our good, that we may share in His holiness.
When we embrace that truth, we let God embrace us. This realization of our identity as His child wields the power to transform not only our own lives, but the lives around us.
As staff, volunteers, and supporters of Lifeline, we represent a variety of stories, each with our own set of hardships. We have all been challenged by both the trials of this world as well as God’s call to trust Him through those trials. Evil is real. Death is real. Heartbreak is real. But our Lord Jesus Christ takes the hardships that life hands us and redeems them for our good, sharpens us to look more like Him. With His help, we can endure hardship as discipline. As Henri Nouwen says, “My own pain in life has taught me that the first step to healing is not a step away from the pain, but a step toward it.”
Lifeline is ready to walk with our clients through their own hardships. Whether they know their Heavenly Father or not, we do everything we can to demonstrate the love of Christ for them in hope that they may recognize their value. Though it can be easy for us on the outside to see the good in a client’s unexpected pregnancy, she may not see the hope past the hardship. We come alongside her, guiding her with resources like education, counseling, and baby supplies that remind her that she can endure. And often, when that baby is born, she comes back as soon as she can to show off her new bundle of hope, the good that God has created out of chaos and confusion.
What about this father business? For some, the connection between the Heavenly Father and earthly father is uncomfortable at best. Lifeline aims to bridge this disconnect through DadLINE, offering new dads one-on-one mentorship with compassionate, godly fathers. We know this relationship doesn’t magically undo the hurt that our clients may have experienced because of their own fathers, but we trust the Holy Spirit to use DadLINE as a form of loving discipline, pointing men toward the greatest example of fatherhood.
What unexpected hardship are you enduring in this season? How might God be trading brokenness in for life-changing discipline? How can you use your role as God’s child to meet others in their own hardships?
Share your story with us. Consider how you can join Lifeline in proclaiming our Heavenly Father’s love for His kids.
By Kath Crane