November 12, 2013 by Kristin Neva
Sara has been playing the violin for almost four years now. We started lessons just before her fourth birthday. Trying to coach a four-year-old to correctly hold the bow was painful… for both of us. But we got through those first lessons, and then on to the Twinkles and beyond. It was tough going at times, but Sara has always loved music and she enjoyed the violin, especially when putting on a concert.
Lately, we have seen a lack of enthusiasm for practicing. “I don’t want to practice. I don’t want to play violin.”
Sometimes I wonder, “Is it worth the effort?” But I think back to when I was a kid, and I wish I had made more progress on the piano and guitar. So we keep going with the violin.
The other Thursday, Sara came out of her reading orchestra class, her face lit up. “Mom,” she said, wonder in her voice, “playing first violin was extraordinary.”
We got home and she played the piece they had been working on for me. “I know that didn’t sound like much,” she said, “but when the other violins were playing, and Miss Maggie was playing, and the cellos were playing, it was amazing.” She had gotten a glimpse of the beauty.
In Hebrews 12 we are called to endure hardship as discipline. God disciplines those He loves. Sometimes we think of discipline as punishment: A time-out; A spanking. We view the difficult circumstances in our lives as consequences for the choices we have made.
Not necessarily. Discipline is training. Learning to play the violin requires discipline. Learning math facts requires discipline. Though Sara would rather be reading or drawing, as parents we require her to do things that she would not choose because we want her brain to expand and develop. The writer of Hebrews says that God’s discipline in our lives is for our good, that we may share in His holiness.
I can relate to how Sara feels because I often don’t like this journey we are on. It’s painful. I don’t want Todd to have ALS.
But there are times when I get glimpses of the beauty. On occasion, I grasp a truth that I never really knew in my heart before, though I may have read a verse dozens of times. At times, I empathize with someone’s pain in a way I never did before and I know that our suffering has expanded my heart. A few weeks ago, when Todd preached on suffering at church, I got a glimpse of the beauty of our situation, and that uplifted my spirits.
Of course, with Sara, the day after “playing the violin was extraordinary” she didn’t want to practice. I reminded her of the beauty she had experienced. “I was wrong,” she said.
I can relate to that because I, too, am up and down. It is easy to lose heart. “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart,” the writer of Hebrews says. We can find comfort in Christ, in His suffering.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Do we submit? Do we surrender? “We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live.”
The training is a process. Just as Sara doesn’t learn her math or her violin overnight, we don’t mature overnight either. But we press on.
Todd’s sermon on suffering: