All blessings come from the Lord.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
Even while they sometimes come to us through vessels He uses or conditions He allows to be brought about, or circumstances we are placed in, they are from His hand. One blessing that seldom is looked on by any of us as a "blessing" is God's chastisement or discipline in our lives. Yet once one goes through that chastisement, and has learned from it, they realize the life and communion they have now in Christ, is so far beyond any pain the chastisement brought, that there is no comparison. Though it was painful, though it was hard to endure, though it was agony at the time, it brought you to a place in Christ that is stable, sure, and full of peace and fellowship in Him, if you relied on Him through it. You realize a communion that you never had before. To rejoice in our sufferings, is to have faith that they are working in us something far superior, and it is trusting our Lord Who shed His blood for us.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 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. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
The meaning of the Greek word for chastisement, from Thayer's dictionary:
1) the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body
2) whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, especially by correcting mistakes and curbing passions.
2a) instruction which aims at increasing virtue
2b) chastisement, chastening, (of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment)
From Strong's: From G3811; tutorage, that is, education or training; by implication disciplinary correction: - chastening, chastisement, instruction, nurture.
What human father would not see to the nurturing, training, education, correction and instruction of the child he loves? A good father would try to do his best in that. God is not just a "good" Father, but thee perfect Father, and His chastisement in our lives is for "training in godliness." If our spiritual growth and life were all up to us, sad to say, we'd be most miserable and would not see to it. Have you ever heard of a child that disciplines him or herself? Their natural tendency is to be totally self-centered and to demand their own way in everything, even throwing tantrums if they don't get it. Eventually when they get to maturity, if they have been trained well, they learn to practice self-discipline in the things they were taught and disciplined in by their parents. But as believers, we need discipline from the Lord, to be trained in our spiritual walk. I believe God is more interested in what we are becoming in Him, than what we are "doing for Him." Much of the "doing" is "wood, hay, and stubble" anyway, being done in our own flesh, until we are made vessels of honor He can work through by His Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:12-14).
The blessing of this training cannot be measured. It is eternal. It brings about not only blessing here and now, in our communion with our Lord, and our knowing Him more, and the peace that brings, but it brings to us eternal rewards that cannot be taken from us forever. It's hard for us to grasp "forever." We are so temporal in all our thinking. But temporal thinking will not get us through the trials we endure in this life. It will only cause us to miss what God is working in and through us in the chastisement He is bringing to us. It's difficult enough to go through the trials and sufferings of this life, but as a believer how much worse if we suffer in vain because we did not trust the Lord's hand in our trial, knowing that it is for our training, our nurturing, our discipline, our very good (Romans 8:28)! We are no better off than the unbeliever then. We have His promise to rely on and trust in, that He will work all things together for our good, for our ultimate glorification in Him, not to be taken lightly.
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:24-31)
I would encourage you to read the entire chapter of Romans 8. We are not without hope, no matter how severe the testing. We are being taught how to apply His promises to our lives, how to "put on Christ" and to walk by faith, not by sight. Walking takes practice and sometimes we take one step and fall, and then maybe two, and eventually as we keep getting back up and keep taking those steps we become more stable, and more sure on our "feet" and we start walking with confidence. Some Christians, sadly, no matter how long they have been saved, have never learned how to walk. It takes effort to make those steps, and does not feel natural at first. I heard a testimony recently at a Voice of the Martyrs conference, from a lady whose husband was tortured and murdered because of His faith and work for the Lord. She was bitter toward those who did this and hated them. She was convicted that she was to love her enemies and pray for them. She knew she had to but did not feel it. She couldn't do it, but she decided she had to be obedient. At first the prayers for her enemies were nothing but words from her mouth that were not in her heart. But each time she prayed for them, eventually the Holy Spirit took over and filled her heart with genuine prayer from the heart for them and she was able to do it with ease. This is the exercise of "putting on Christ", walking in obedience, walking by faith. We take the steps, He puts the power and life into it.
Yet how sad when we think only temporally, and we disregard His Word that gives us that hope and promise and we only murmur and complain and never see the blessing He is working in us through the chastisement. Or if we see the chastisement as "punishment" or "judgment" from God as though He were applying it in anger then we run from Him, and place ourselves under a spirit of condemnation, rather than seeing His love through it, and submitting to His hand. We may not see ourselves as "running from God" though if we are not submitting to His hand in our lives seeking His wisdom through it and His glory, rather than just our own temporal comfort, we miss that blessing, and it's all in vain, and we have run from what He has for us. It won't benefit us. Yet God Who is faithful will keep working in us until we finally come to see it for what it is. The stronger our flesh's rule in us, I believe, the greater the discipline it takes to free us from ourselves, it seems.
Some of us seem to have a lifetime of discipline to walk in, such as a sickness or infirmity that we have to endure in this body as long as we're alive. It's one thing to have a terminal illness - at least you know it will end, and you will be free and with the Lord, if you are a believer. But to have something that you just have to live with, endure, accept, and there is so far no cure for, or to live in chronic pain every day, is another thing. Or to be born in a country where you are subjected constantly, day after day, to fear of terror by those who hate God and His children and want to steal, kill, and destroy, just as their father the devil bids them to do. There is no escape, but only learning to endure it by His grace, and not be overcome by it, and to learn to find His glory in it. We all have our different callings, locations, and things to endure. Sometimes there is no deliverance other than the Lord's coming to take us home. This is not because of God's displeasure of us. This is not because God is against us. What does it say? It is because of His love for us, and He confirms His love to us in it and assures us that He is for us, and if He is for us, who or what in heaven or earth can be against us? They may be against us, but they cannot defeat us. Through the things we endure we learn to rely on God and to know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings and become like Him, as we do as His Word says, seeking His face in all, and submitting to Him. Those who are the most broken in the flesh, learn to cling to Him the most, and He becomes the most dear to.
He does give us promise in the midst of each testing or hardship. He does not leave us helpless and He gives us promises that we can count on.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:2-5)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:6-10)
Sometimes the "way of escape" is to let God take you by the hand and teach you how to walk through it, by His power and grace, and to stand so that we are not hurt by it. He gives us feet that can walk on water, and not be overwhelmed by the storm and the tidal waves. He teaches us to overcome evil rather than to be overcome by evil. He reveals Himself there with us in the fiery furnace. He teaches us to find His shelter and rest even while in the storm itself, before delivering us from out of the storm. Paul learned that whatever his circumstances, whether he was being persecuted, suffered loss, or whether he had plenty, to be content. None of us is content in this life if we suffer, but in Christ, Paul showed us that it is possible as we learn to completely rely on Him through all. We learn that Jesus IS our contentment, and we are most content in His fellowship and closeness, regardless of the suffering. This kind of contentment does not come about just by human will. It is worked in us through the many chastisements the Lord brings to us, as we trust in Him and learn to submit to Him and know Him through them. It is worked in us through many hardships as we learn to make Christ our contentment.
God is never trying to "make us stronger" through our trials. This is a mistake many make. That is, He is not trying to "strengthen our flesh." Many times I've cried, "Why is this happening to me. It's only making me weaker, not stronger! I can't do anything! What good am I to God?" Sometimes He brings us to utter helplessness regarding our flesh, but remember what Paul learned in that?
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
How different a heavenly way of thinking is from the earthly, worldly way of thinking! It is totally opposite of human nature or human psychology that seeks to strengthen "self." It is only by divine nature that it is reasonable at all! It is only from Heaven's perspective that it can make any sense at all to live the Christian life. If there were no more hope than what we have in this life the Christian life would be the most unreasonable and hopeless and miserable life of all. Why would we endure, if there were not some promise of blessing for that endurance? Why would we suffer shame, reproach, persecution, etc., if there were not an eternal promise and hope? Yet many "Christians" live as though this life were meant to be our Heaven now. It's preached "God wants you to be your happiest now!" I don't think so.
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)
If Christ, then why not us, His children as well? Do we think to learn it without suffering in the flesh? Do we think ourselves superior to Christ Himself?
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)
But Christ has been raised, and we have been raised with Him, and shall be raised to be with Him in eternity. What we gain through all in this world will be eternal gain for us. Where our treasure is there our heart will be also. If we look at each hardship in this world we've been given to endure as God wants us to see it, the benefit holds much treasure for us that cannot be measured. If we see it as the blessing it is to us, we will gain much. Let's not miss the blessing, disguised as chastisement, that God has for each one of us Who are born again, children of God. This is our joy and hope. Let's not take it lightly, or toss it away, or miss it. Abba, enable us to embrace it with joy, trusting in You! You will never fail in all Your purposes! You have provided for all!
If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.