One of my favorite experiences was coaching our high school boys’ basketball team. During preseason training, my coaching was one of the guys’ worst experiences because of the intense fitness regimen I made them endure. I would completely wear the guys out. Sometimes I would tell them, “We’re going to end practice in just a minute—just give me another three or four miles.”

Yes, I was the type of coach players love to hate. But I don’t regret it, because during the season, the conditioning paid off. Our guys weren’t weak-kneed and dragging their arms in fatigue at the end of each game because they had been prepared in advance. The intense preseason training molded them into a team which, I believe, could have competed with anyone at their level.

God’s chastening often carries a negative connotation, but it should be thought of in a positive light. Sometimes chastening is God’s means of punishment, but it can also refer to a series of trials through which God leads us. Either way, God uses it to make us better and prepare us for Heaven. Chastening is His mold to transform us into winners with courage to wrestle whatever opposes or oppresses us as we serve Him.

Are you experiencing great difficulty today? I encourage you not to look unfavorably toward your circumstances. Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will guide you through your hardship. Rest in the awareness that God is using your trials to mold you into a winner who has been equipped to perform His perfect will.

How could we, without sufferings, manifest the nature and truth of Gospel-grace! What place should we then have for patience, submission, meekness, forbearance, and a readiness to forgive, if we had nothing to try us, either from the hand of the Lord, or from the hand of men! — John Newton

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.