“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands… 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.”
As I look back over my life, I see now there were a number of very difficult stages I believe God actually used for my good to discipline me; although at the time, I did not recognize them as having any useful longer term purpose. Going to prison certainly qualifies as one of these periods. Can you relate?
With hindsight, I see the truth that God disciplines those He loves; those He treats as sons (see Proverbs 3:11-12; and Hebrews 12:5-13). He does not want us to be discouraged; rather, He desires for us to learn lessons from these tests.
For example, an important life lesson is that decisions have consequences – good decisions have good consequences, and bad decisions have bad consequences.
Disobedience to God’s principles and commands will always have bad consequences. This is a natural law. God does not cause the outcomes, but our decisions have natural consequences. If we are humble and repentant, God can use these circumstances to teach and strengthen us.
It is important also to understand that God already knows our hearts, but testing shows us what is in our heart. When we acknowledge our heart condition, wisdom and understanding come to help us make necessary changes.
Thank the Father for times of testing and discipline. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and insight from your trials to know your own heart and make adjustments.
Dive Deeper: Study Deuteronomy 8; Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:5-13; Job 5:17-18; Psalm 94:12-13.