You’ve heard it said that trials can make you bitter or better. The author of Hebrews explains that all things, good and bad, come to us through the loving hands of a perfect Father who loves us and always has our best interest foremost in mind. No hardship, trial or loss in life is pleasant. But if we face them as Job did, we can come through them better than we were when we first came into them. Job said, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” and “naked came I into the world and naked from it I will go. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The writer of Hebrews wishes that all our trials and difficulties in life make us better. He writes in Hebrews 12:11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Tanner explains, “The author acknowledges that God’s discipline seems at the time to be more painful than joyful. Yet by cooperating with God, we are trained by it. The word trained is from gymnazō, from which we get the word “gymnasium,” a place of training. Like any athlete who has learned that grueling workouts eventually pay off, so God’s sons must focus on the long-term benefits rather than the immediate pain. That benefit is not larger biceps, but the peaceable fruit of righteousness – righteousness that conforms us to the Lord Jesus.”[1]

To tell a person in the midst of their trial that God intends it all for their good seems trite and insensitive. It can be, but that doesn’t change it. It’s our response to the trial that will make or break us. Gromacki explains this well. He writes, “When a person perceives the act of chastisement as an end in itself, and not as a means to an end, he fails to comprehend its true purpose. God wants the believer to become productive through the discipline. The child of God should yield “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” God is the spiritual husbandman who prunes and cleanses the believer so that the life of Christ will be manifested through him (John 15:1–5). It is “peaceable” in that the rebellious spirit has been changed into quiet submission and it is morally right. The only child of God who will produce this fruit is the one who is “exercised” by the chastisement. He willingly accepts it and learns by it; however, some harden themselves and are worse off as the result of the divine attempt to correct.”[2]

[1] J. Paul Tanner, “The Epistle to the Hebrews,” in The Grace New Testament Commentary, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2010), 1088.

[2] Robert Gromacki, Stand Bold in Grace: An Exposition of Hebrews, The Gromacki Expository Series (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2002), 204.