Take a step back in time and think about how your parents disciplined you while growing up. Maybe you were the perfect child and never riled anger or correction from your parents. I was not, and I spent many nights “grounded.” Perhaps you have been a parent yourself and had the distinct pleasure of correcting your own children, “for their own good.”
I was not a good disciplinarian, or rather I didn’t like being one. I loved my children and corrected them as a good parent does. Sometimes I would catch myself saying “No” more than saying “Yes. Seeing the big picture and knowing how those corrections would shape their lives was hard. I was always hopeful I’d done the right thing. Today’s reading affirmed me a bit because I was doing the best I knew how. “But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.”
It’s no fun to be disciplined, it can be painful. But when you are on the other side and can look back, it’s clear the correction was needed. After enduring the storm and trial, you are in a better place than you were. Think about how you have been disciplined by God. What did you learn from it? You are most certainly stronger now.
If we think of human suffering as a way of sharpening ourselves in preparation for something greater, it might be easier to endure. You might have heard the story before about the woman who goes to a silversmith to watch the process of refining silver.
The Refiner’s Fire
As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: ‘He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.’ (Malachi 3:3) She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, ‘How do you know when the silver is fully refined?’ He smiled at her and answered, ‘Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.’
Isn’t that the goal of our discipline? God wants us to be holy, to be more like Jesus. Yet, it can be hard to be faithful, to be strong in our Christian beliefs. We are challenged at every turn it seems. It seems like the test is ongoing. Just remember, at the end of the day, all you need to be is a loving servant devoted to God.
Let’s pray. Lord, the corrections may be painful, but help me to see the end goal. I know you are working in me, teaching me lessons that only you could teach. Help me to accept the direction you are leading. May I not fight back but accept how you are molding me. I look forward to seeing my life transformed because of you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.