God's Discipline
by Lori Kennedy
May 11th, 2017

“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 12:11 (NIV)

How do you know when you are under God’s discipline or just experiencing the regular trials of life?  This was a question in which I was recently struggling. I took this question to others and heard a couple of times that discipline is about sin whereas the normal trials of life are just that…normal. Although this made some sense, it didn’t feel like a whole answer. So I kept seeking by asking, praying, and searching scripture.

My husband brought the definition of discipline to me, which is a practice of training.  He brought up the “discipline” of martial arts. When you are trained in the discipline of martial arts, you are prepared for battle. Discipline is a preparation through training.

In the culture in which we live, I think that we equate discipline and punishment and we expect to be punished for wrong actions. Although there are some similarities, the definition of discipline is different than the definition of punishment.

I then looked up the definition of punishment and it said that punishment is a penalty. I looked up the word punishment in www.biblegateway.com and saw that most of the New Testament NIV scriptures were about eternal punishment. That immediately brought me to the cross. We, as followers of Christ have been saved from punishment because Jesus took our penalty (or punishment) on the cross. 

Although this is still a work in progress for me, I believe that what I am working on is re-defining discipline. I was thinking that discipline was about punishment.  When, in reality, discipline is about preparation and training. You train those you love and those whom you want to prepare for what they may have to encounter in this life. When you look at the 49 scriptures on Biblegateway in the NIV Bible with the word discipline, you can see that many of these scriptures talk about training up a child by a parent.  Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”  A parent wants their child to become all that they can be, and discipline is training to bring out the best in you; to prepare you for the responsibilities and struggles of life.

The original question I was struggling with was, “How can you tell the difference between God’s discipline and everyday trials”?  The conclusion I came to was that at end of day doesn’t matter if you are going through the regular trials of life or being disciplined by your Heavenly Father, because either is going to develop you into the best version of you that you can be. Romans 5:3-4 states, “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

In conclusion, discipline develops us while punishment was endured by Jesus on the cross and, in that, we have eternal hope!


Lori Kennedy is the founder of Alpha Omega Ministries. A Christian vocalist and singer, Lori reaches out to others through her inspirational songs and speaking engagements. Her song "Healing Tears" from her most recently released project was nominated one of the top ten songs of 2013 by CWIMA (Christian Women in Media Association).  Lori is actively involved as a worship leader and singer for church events and Christian retreats across the United States.

More of Lori Kennedy: http://www.lorikennedy.com/