Old church signs have become treasures of the past. Catchy marquees have faded into distant memories. Most have been replaced by electronic message screens or simple signage. I was driving through an older neighborhood, where I saw an even older church building, with its sign out front proudly displaying a two-sentence sermon: “When a train enters a dark tunnel, the passengers do not question the engineer. They trust him.”
It reminded me there’s wisdom with age, and it also brought to mind a similar sermon in the book of Hebrews. Listen to this treatise of train passengers trusting their engineer in chapter twelve.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them for it. How more much should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 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. (Hebrews 12:7-11, NIV)
The Deeper Lessons
Coupled with our own bad choices, and the inevitable consequences therein, Satan relishes the opportunity to hasten believers of Jesus to the catastrophic abyss. Producing and maintaining a broken world dominates his job description. God gives good things (James 1:17-18), but God does not prevent tragedy. He allows bad things to happen to good people. God does not always rescue us from the fire, but He always walks with us through the flames. God does not always stop the storm, but God shelters us in the winds and the waves. This is the “discipline” the writer of Hebrews is referencing. God sometimes takes away what we want — or what we thought we deserved — to teach us deeper lessons. As the writer of Hebrews explains, this is not a pleasant experience. It is painful. But God does this for two main reasons:
#1: Because we are His children (vv. 7-8)
#2: For our own good (v. 10)
Turbulent waters symbolize our sonship. Have you ever considered that it would be more tragic to never endure hard times? According to this inspired passage, without tragedy, we would not be true children of God. If we remain faithful, we rise from the ashes with a stronger faith and brighter future. By the Hebrew writer’s own admission, “…it is for our good, that we may share in God’s holiness.” In due time, hard days produce holy disciples.
So back to the marquee. Train passengers do not question the engineer when he takes them through dark tunnels. Similarly, God’s children do not question the Father when He takes them through dark days. He knows what He is doing. He knows where He is going. He knows what is on the other side. And when the tunnel ends — when the darkness turns to day — the passengers are not only stronger, but more like God.
Trust the engineer. It will be the ride of your life.
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