Devotion in Motion: No pain, no gain

8 “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Hebrews 5:8

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

In my years of being a schoolteacher, I’ve taught a wide variety of ages and subjects. In the 1990’s, I taught a class called “Technology Discovery”. The federal government gave us a grant to build a state-of- the-art classroom that was housed in a laboratory. Over a quarter-million dollars was spent at our school to provide our students with this wonderful program—which included the latest computers and gleaming scientific equipment. We had an industrial robot, a television studio and different kinds of lasers. However, after teaching the class for a few years I realized that the two most educational pieces of equipment in my lab cost less than 5 dollars apiece. My students learned the most valuable and lasting lessons from: 1) a pair scissors and 2) a hot-glue-gun.

In one module of study, my pupils built suspension bridges out of balsa wood and sheets and sticks.  This made it necessary for them to cut with “grown-up” scissors—a skill I soon learned that few young people possess. It may have been a long time ago, but I’m fairly certain I knew how to cut with a pair of scissors by the time I was in 9th grade. When I was a kid, young people did things that actually required you to use a pair of scissors. When you went to visit your grandmother, for example, she didn’t have a Nintendo to keep you occupied. So, if you got bored, she’d mix up some flour-and-water paste, give you some brown paper that she cut from a grocery sack, and let you cut pictures from the Sears catalogue to make yourself a “scrapbook”. So, back in the day, we learned to cut with scissors.

(An elementary-teacher friend of mine told me that little kids still do cut with scissors in the early grades. But they use elementary scissors with rounded points that won’t cut hot butter. And since the kids are crummy at cutting with scissors because they rarely do it, the teacher’s assistant takes the scissors away from the kids and says, “Here, honey, let me do that for you. I can do it faster. You’re going to hurt yourself.” But I digress….)

So, during every semester when my freshmen were cutting with scissors, there were always kids who got hurt. Sometimes they sliced through layers of skin with the blades, and other times they got puncture wounds from jabbing themselves with the pointed ends. The principal’s office just learned to expect this. If “Technology Discovery” was working with scissors, well, somebody was going to the emergency room.

The second miraculous teaching-aid was the hot glue gun. My ninth graders were constantly giving themselves 2nd degree burns from touching the searing metal tip to their bare skin or from dribbling molten plastic glue on their fingers. When they complained to me of their injuries, I always spoke with them sympathetically. I told them, “Look, sweetheart, these things are dangerous. They heat up to 400 degrees and squirt melted plastic. Let’s look at the words that describe this thing: ‘Hot.’ ‘Hot glue.’ ‘Hot glue GUN.’ See, that gives us a big clue. You’ve got to be careful.”

I found that my 9th graders tended to reinforce this lesson with each other. I laughed aloud one day when I heard a young lady tell her lab partner, “Homer! If you bump me with that hot glue gun ONE more time, I’m going to slap the TASTE out of your mouth.” I’m pretty sure Homer didn’t bump her again. 🙂

I think there’s a spiritual principle in this somewhere. The Scriptures and our own experience show us that often our best learning doesn’t happen during the easy times but rather when we face times of pain. God uses trials and rough days to teach us to depend on Him by faith.

Today’s Scripture text (at the top) is remarkable to me. It says that even though Jesus was God’s Son, He still had to learn the lessons that trials and suffering teach us. If the Lord Jesus learned obedience “by the things that He suffered” why should we think we’ll have lives free from discomfort?

Dear mama, are you puzzled by the “sharpness” and “heat” of the daily trials you often face? Looking at things from the perspective of eternity helps us have a proper view of the lives we’re living now. Realize that our loving Heavenly Father is at work in your life, molding you into the image of His Son—so give thanks to Him as you draw near to Him for grace!

babies-2.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” (That’s him pictured at right with one of the babies in his congregation.) He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 25 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.)  He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 19) and Seth (age 16) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the youth group once made a hospice-craft that educated them in the wonders of  the hot glue gun.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to

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