Q. I just listened to your excellent Hebrews 12 lessons. You mentioned 3 things that can cause hardship: consequence of sin, the evil world, and being out of fellowship with God. What would God’s discipline (training, learning) look like if these 3 items were not present in our lives? Also, is there any way for us to avoid hardship due to the evil world?
A. If these three things were not present in our lives it would mean the rapture has taken place and we would need no discipline or training. Until then, we are sinners by nature and therefore subject to its consequences, the world is an evil place where bad things can happen without cause, and from time to time we will find ourselves out of fellowship with God due to our unwillingness to confess and be forgiven. This can be due to pride, denial, or just plain stubbornness, but it happens to everyone.
In John 16:33 Jesus said we would face trouble in this world, so I don’t believe there’s any guaranteed way to avoid it. The main advantage to being a Christian in this world is that we have the Lord’s promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Matt. 28:20), and will see us through every time of trial. If we stray, our Good Shepherd will bring us back (Luke 15:3-7), and when we are restored He will turn our trial into a blessing (Romans 8:28).