Why Hardship May Show God’s Love for You

Years ago, a book by a zookeeper told how mama giraffes knock the feet out from under their newborn babies when they are learning to stand. That sounds like a cruel “Welcome to the world.” However, the opposite is true. In the world of lions and tigers, a baby giraffe’s survival depends on his ability to get up and move.

My parents grew up in the “Buck up little camper” era and parented me with a similar strategy. Later the fad swung to prop up your child’s ego. Parenting gurus warned that saying “no” to your children brought the risk of crushing their spirits.

Who was right? The Bible supports nurturing our young and equipping them to survive in a hostile world. Like the baby giraffe having his legs knocked out from under him, equipping sometimes feels harsh and even unfair.

Biblical Examples

While writing Little Strength, Big God, I noticed that God didn’t shelter His young heroes from hardship.

  • Moses was ripped from his faith-filled family at a very young age to be raised in the palace of the wicked ruler who hated his race (Exodus 2:9-10).
  • As teens, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego calmly addressed the egotistical king who’d captured them and probably killed their families. They didn’t learn those skills locked up in some ivory tower.
I've noticed that God didn’t shelter His young heroes from hardship. Neither did He wrap His own Son in bubble wrap. #hope, #GodLovesYou Share on X

God didn’t wrap His own Son in bubble wrap.

  • King Herod sent soldiers to kill Him when He was an infant.
  • “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11 NASB 1995)
  • “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 NLT).
  • “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8 NASB 1995).

What does this mean for us?

It’s not unusual to question God when we suffer severe loss or injustice. Did we do something wrong? Does God not love me? “I’ve tried to life a good life. Why did God let this happen?”

Have you ever been around children or adults who weren’t trained as children? The disciplined know how to treat others, practice self-control, and carry a confidence the neglected lack. They know how to persevere through hardship and delay gratification for greater goals.

The writer of Hebrews says God personally trains His children. When we view hardship as training from God we can see the love behind it.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, 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 spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order 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.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” (Hebrews 12:7-13 NIV).

Like a mother giraffe, our heavenly Father uses hardship to strengthen us so we can confidently escape life’s dangers and arrive safely home.

Strength Finder

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 emphasis added)

The exercises a physical therapist used to restore mobility to my frozen shoulder brought tears to my eyes. What value do you put on “righteousness and peace”? Surely, they are worth a few tears. Recall a current or biblical story where God used hardship for a greater purpose. How might viewing hardship as protective training help you trust God with your trials?

Click here to comment.



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  1. Ann

    There has to definitely be balance between discipline and protection. Doing everything for children and not allowing them to experience consequences leads to disaster. We see it in our country today.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Yes. It takes energy and perseverance to faithfully train a child. And God gives that to us!

  2. Tracy

    Hi Debbie, what a great post. I love the examples you gave. I think for me as a mom I kind of did half and half?! I can only hope and pray where I failed miserably God has undertaken. But yes, as children of God discipline can be very hard. Especially when you don’t understand the “why” yet. Like Joseph. Can you imagine the thoughts going on in his mind from the time his brothers sold him until God lifted him up?
    Great encouragement.
    God bless

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Tracy, I was far from a perfect parent. And yes, I’m sure Joseph felt conflicted between the dream God gave him and the road he had to walk!

  3. Barbara Harper

    This is something I don’t see discussed much in our day, and it needs to be. As parents, we want to make things easy for our kids. But they grow through overcoming hardship. What a good reminder that God uses hardship to train us.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Barbara, I agree. It’s hard to watch those we love struggle. However, we pay coaches to push us in sports etc because we know it makes us better. We certainly need to be reminded of God’s over-arching plan and goodness when we encounter hardship because the world gives a different message.

  4. Karen Friday

    Debbie, this is a powerful message and drives home the intent of Hebrews 12:11 so well. Discipline is good for us, as children and as God’s children. I didn’t know that about baby giraffes. How interesting. God bless.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Karen, I found that interesting too. And to think God put that instinct into them. Another way God has revealed Himself through nature. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Joanna Eccles

    I believe that God wants us to know the boundaries of right and wrong. He disciplines us when we step out of line because He knows the consequences of sin are bad. I also believe that God sympathizes with our weaknesses and doesn’t kick us when we are down. We live in a fallen world and bad things happen, but God is not trying to knock us off our feet. He just wants us to make Him our foundation and not stray from the straight and narrow way. When we do, He guides us back to Himself, though we make feel the repercussions of our actions. We may even suffer for doing right because of the fall, but God stays with us through the hardships.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Joanna, thanks for adding your thoughts.

  6. Heidi Vertrees

    I love your examples from the Bible! Good coaching! Thank you.

    • Debbie Wilson

      I’m so glad God recorded those stories for us. Thank you, Heidi.

  7. Annie Yorty

    Thank you for this little slice of wisdom, Debbie. Now that I have a few years under my belt, I see the truth of this message. God has used hardships to strengthen me and enable me to stand firm in my faith no matter what.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Annie, I think having some years under my belt has also helped me better appreciate this. Hardship is never pleasant, and my tendency is to shrink back from it. But knowing my loving Father is using it for a greater good makes all the difference. I’m glad He recorded so many examples in Scripture.

  8. Linda Stoll

    Yes, I’ve encountered the Lord when my feet have been knocked out from under me – either by His loving hand … or by my own sinful desires. Gratefully, He is faithful to nurture us to health and wholeness again …

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Linda, strengthening those “weak knees” of faith is not fun. But It is wonderful when we learn to run. 🙂

  9. J.D. Wininger

    LOVED this post Ms. Debbie. While we may not like the hardship, understand the trial or its purpose, God never promised us that being a follower of Christ was easy. Christ said, “… My yoke is easy …” (Matthew 11:29-30, I think). We may be yoked to Christ, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t have a load to bear. What it means is that He will bear it with us. Praise God, everything that I go through is because God needs me to go through it so I can become stronger and more like His Son. The victory is always worth the cost of the battle, my friend. I’m so inspired by your words of wisdom, ma’am. Thank you!

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Thank you, J.D.! You’ve encouraged me. I’m so thankful God recorded these stories for us, so we can see the good that came later.

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