Hebrews 12:11-13 “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”
Years ago, I found out what happens when you have a heart attack. Oh, I have known a lot of people who had heart attacks. I have been to hospitals to pray with and for them. I have read about all symptoms, but it is different when you feel them. Before they released me from the hospital, they gave me a custom-designed workout program to improve my cardiovascular strength and help prevent another heart attack. I told you that God designs the curriculum in Adversity University specifically for each believer, and this was the same way. It was planned just for me. My cardio regimen was not a pleasant program. It was rigorous. I did not get up in the morning and say, “I can’t wait to get down to the gym and get on that elliptical trainer!” I would get used to one level on the treadmill, and then they would make it go faster and increase the angle so it was higher and create more resistance to make me work harder. I hated that program, but I knew that it was for my benefit.
Then we would do it all over again…and again…and again. I hated gym class. But it was not optional-I could not quit. A guy could try not doing the exercises, but Mr. Santangilo had a motivational device in his office called a paddle. So, we did the leg lifts, and the jumping jacks, and the push-ups, and the sit-ups, and ran laps just like he told us to do. God has assigned us non-optional chastening, because He loves us so much. He brings adversity, pressures, problems and people into our lives as part of His custom workout program prepared just for us. Let’s look at God’s exercise program, and what it is designed to do in our lives.
God’s workout program is designed to strengthen our hands for work.
The hands mentioned in verse twelve are a metaphor for our work for the Lord. So, God has designed our training to make us stronger in His work. More than fifty times, the Bible talks about the work of a man or woman’s hands. Work is not a curse; it is a blessing. Adam had work assignments even before the “Fall”. There is a work that God has called every one of us to do. Too many people think that God’s calling is restricted to preachers and missionaries. If you are doing the work that God has called you to do, it is sacred work, whether you are a pastor or a plumber; a missionary or a machinist. For the children of God, there is such thing as sacred and secular; everything we do is to be done “as to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:23) Wherever you work, you are working for the Lord. No obedient Christian serves God part-time.
God’s workout program is designed to strengthen our hands for prayer.
In 1 Timothy 2:8, Paul wrote, “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” What does that mean? In the Hebrew culture, it was common for people to raise their hands up toward Heaven while they prayed; in fact, many Jewish people still do that today. Psalm 28:2 says, “Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward the holy oracle.” God intensifies the burdens and pressures in life, so that I will develop as a man of prayer.
God’s workout program is designed to strengthen our hands for praise.
Psalm 63:4 says, “Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.” Psalm 134:2 says, “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.” One of the main purposes for which we were created is to give praise to God. It is easy to praise Him when you are on top of the mountain. It is easy to lift up your hands in praise when you have experienced a great blessing, but what about in the hours of discouragement? What do you do in those times when those burdens are so heavy? That is when God develops our strength of praise. He says, “Now, I want you to lift up your hands unto Me. Now, I want to hear your praise.” God puts us in His workout program to strengthen our hands for work, for prayer, and for praise.