The School of Hard Knocks—Life Application for October 16, 2016

October 9, 2016 No Comments »
The School of Hard Knocks—Life Application for October 16, 2016

By David Faust

faustDo you remember your first grade classroom? I can still picture mine at Salem Elementary School. The letters of the alphabet stretched in bold type across the top of the old-fashioned blackboard, complete with dusty erasers and sticks of white chalk.

To capture her pupils’ 6-year-old imaginations and expand our view of the world, my teacher, Mrs. Tolle, put a globe and maps in the room so we could discover the wonders of faraway places. At the start of each school day, students took turns hoisting the American flag, and we stood with hands over our hearts and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Tadpoles swam around in fishbowls, and we marveled at the sight of tiny living creatures in the drops of pond water Mrs. Tolle placed under a microscope.

I was grateful for a caring teacher like Mrs. Tolle, but I didn’t always like the classroom. My favorite parts of the day were recess and lunch. I longed to be free to run and play. What active boy wanted to sit at an uncomfortable wooden desk memorizing facts and taking tests? School taught me that while learning is an adventure, it isn’t always fun—and sometimes it’s downright painful.

The Classroom of Suffering

For the King of kings, the path to the throne room led through the classroom of suffering. Why should it be different for us?

I wish it were not so. Even as an adult, part of me longs to run free and play instead of facing my daily assignments and tests. Hardship appears to be par for the course. Could it be that in God’s curriculum, designed to make us holy, suffering isn’t an elective but a requirement?

The Greek language contained a play on words: mathein meant to learn, and pathein meant to suffer. Mathein pathein: to learn is to suffer. God didn’t exempt his Son from the school of hard knocks. The Bible says of Jesus, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The flawless Christ “did not sin” (4:15), but nevertheless he learned the hard lessons of obedience.

We recoil from misery and try to avoid pain, but we comprehend why hard knocks lead to spiritual growth. It makes sense that flawed human beings learn obedience by experiencing the unpleasant consequences of our poor choices. But the sufferings of Christ seem beyond our grasp. Why would someone who is perfect endure the physical, emotional, and spiritual agony of Gethsemane and Calvary? Christ suffered so ultimately we won’t have to—and to accomplish his mission, he had to spend time in the classroom of suffering.

The Throne Room of Grace

You and I haven’t graduated yet from the school of hard knocks. The good news? Those who live by faith in Christ eventually graduate to glory.

In fact, the King invites us into his presence anytime we choose, and his presence is especially reassuring when the hard knocks come. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). If you find yourself in the classroom of suffering, remember this: the classroom has a doorway in it, and the doorway leads to the throne room of God.

David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

As you apply today’s Scripture study to everyday life, read Engage Your Faith by David Faust and the correlating Evaluation Questions.

Daily Readings

Oct. 10


Ephesians 4:7-13

Gifts for the Work of Ministry

Oct. 11


1 Timothy 1:12-17

Grateful for God’s Mercy

Oct. 12


1 Timothy 1:18-20

Maintain Faith and a Good Conscience

Oct. 13


2 Timothy 1:3-14

Guard Your Faith with Powerful Love

Oct. 14


2 Timothy 2:1-7

A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ

Oct. 15


Matthew 26:36-39

Jesus Carries Forward the Father’s Will

Oct. 16


Hebrews 4:14–5:10

Jesus the Great High Priest

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