Have you ever discovered that some of the most precious times of spiritual growth have come through difficult circumstances? I think there are times that everyone longs for the mountaintop experience with God and yet its through the valleys that faith is challenged, strengthened and purified.
Much of life seems to be a 2 sided coin. If looked at only at face value, the circumstances of life are just unpleasant difficulties. However, I believe that it’s the other side of the coin that needs to be looked at. I realize in my own life, there are things that I wish I never would have had to go through. And yet I see how God has used those situations to renew my mind and transform the way I think. Pain is never pleasant. Yet there is pain in life that makes it worth it. I’m not going to pretend to know the pain of childbirth (I fear the pain I would receive from my wife if I did think I understood), and yet through the pain of childbirth marvelous new life is born. Even Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered.
People that believe that Christians aren’t supposed to have pain or difficulties anymore are in for a rude awakening. Pain is a necessary part of life. It is the stripping away of the flesh – the part of us that continually desires our own pleasure instead of God’s. Living for pleasure only postpones pain, it doesn’t avoid it. Living for God’s pleasure may bring pain, and yet ultimately results in our joy. I take comfort from the fact that the pain caused through lifes circumstances, and in fact from the hand of God, is from the hand of a loving Father who wants the best for His children. God disciplines those He loves.
In my own life, I have seen how God has used pain in the church, pain in my marriage, pain in parenting, pain in my struggles and pain through disappointments to shape my views and my vision of what should be. There will be pain in life. If we give up because of pain, we’re missing out on what God can teach us through it.
There are people who have been hurt in churches and so they give up on it. I also have been hurt in the church and yet God has used that experience to give me stronger passion for what it should be. I wouldn’t have had that if not for the pain. Throw the water, leave the baby. Don’t allow a disappointment to keep you from obeying God’s design. This is true as it comes to the church, marriage, parenting, relationships and ultimately all of these are tied into your relationship with God.
There’s a common phrase used in getting physcially fit that says, “No pain, no gain.” I don’t want to be a spirtual puffball. Could it be that there are so many spiritual wimps because we would rather have an experience with God that a commitment to Him. We would rather ride the highs of a feeling that going through the lows necessary for spiritual maturity. We want to feel good and so we make a relationship with God about us, instead of about Him.
I get concerned for people that think living for God equals an easy life, or the “good” life. Sometimes suffering happens as a result of doing good. Yet it’s the coin that is important to remember. The whole coin exists for God’s glory in His economy. If God chooses to use blessing or difficulty for His glory, that is up to Him. If we only do good for what we think will be the intended result it’s not really about God. It’s about us. Our responsibility is to be faithful regardless and to do all for the glory of God. It’s not always easy to say but may we have the heart to say through all things, “Blessed be Your name”.