At the time it is administered, any discipline seems a cause for grief, not joy, but later it bears fruit in peace and justice for those formed by it. So hold up your drooping hands and steady your trembling knees. Make straight the path you tread, that your halting limbs will not be dislocated, but healed.
At various points the scriptures wrestle with the issue of pain and suffering, most notably in the book of Job. Here in the course of Hebrews the pain and suffering referred to is that caused by solicitous lies, derogatory stereotyping, and sneering hatred pointedly aimed at the faithful.
The harassed community is encouraged to understand their experience from an internal core which is stronger than external vagaries. They cannot control the attitudes of the larger society, but the community can control how they handle the negative energy aimed at them. The community’s struggle with cruelty is reframed as the notion of “discipline.”
The passage does not deny the barbed and cutting aspect of oppression. It describes “drooping hands,” “trembling knees,” and “halting limbs” as a result of being beaten down by discrimination and bigotry. Taking this reality seriously the scriptures invite us to reflect in a new way on the experience of intolerance.
These experiences, while painful, can also become the training ground in our struggle for peace and justice – for understanding and equality. Instead of being the cause of weariness, uncertainty, and disarticulation these same experiences can just as well be the cause of discipline, education, and mentoring. Such resources prove invaluable in the struggle of queer equality.
When our hands are droopy and our legs trembling, and we find ourselves stumbling because of negative experiences the scriptures invite us to reframe our internal response. There is a catch. The work of reframing is among the hardest we will encounter – just read the rest of the letter to the Hebrews. The scriptures, grounded in the Sacred, understand that reframing happens as a result of being rooted in the great Heart of the universe.
If we can withstand and transform the attitudes of heterosexual privilege it is because we have been disciplined by the continuing efforts to usher in this transformation. If we who are queer and faithful have a gift to share with our sisters and brothers in the struggle it is the simple insight that we do not have to take what society hands us. Rooted in the Sacred we can reframe what was intended to hurt as the occasion for learning so that peace and justice will be the outcome of our labors.