1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
3Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. 4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children — "My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; 6for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts." 7Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live?10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
14Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
The writer of Hebrews quotes from Proverbs 3:11-12 (underlined above) about discipline that comes from the Lord, that He disciplines those whom he loves.
In ages past the notion of the Lord's discipline was understood readily and when rightly discerned was appreciated by the faithful.
We live in a different age. The idea of the Lord's discipline, for a large number of believers, is an alien notion. That is, it does not figure into how God deals with us. When something difficult hits us, when we are chastised in some way, when some suffering takes us down for a count, we -- I won't say invariably -- often understand these moments as cases of injustice, unfairness, or the work of the enemy. That is, unless we pray and consider, "Lord, are you disciplining me?"
Sadly, there are those few who swing to the other extreme end. Anything bad that happens is an instance of the Lord's discipline. They perceive such situations as instigated by God and that such trials (accusations, demotions, ridicule, poor treatment, etc.) are wholly deserved due to their sin (known and unknown) or for the sake of sanctification. Very sad.
What are we to do? For both extremes -- for those for whom "the Lord's discipline" is foreign and for those for whom "the Lord's discipline" is the first interpretation -- pray for discernment. Get into the habit of asking the Lord, "What's going on?" and "Why is this happening?" Think through things clearly; if appropriate, share with others; but, most of all, be in prayer and inquire of the Lord. The voice of God and your knowledge of the sovereign God who acts and who is for you, even in loving discipline, will guide you well in this area.
Let's pray: Father God, we love you because you love us. You love us so much that you will at times discipline us to make sure we get on the right track with you if and when we veer away from you and your ways. Help us to hear your voice through Scripture and in prayer. Help us to discern those times when you are using difficult situations to discipline us. Help us to keep your eyes and hearts on you at all times. In Jesus' name, amen.