Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Growing Pains

Our 3-year-old commonly wakes up in the middle of the night crying because of growing pains. I rub his little legs, give him Ibuprofen, tell him he's getting taller, and cover him back up. These pains have been an issue with all our children around this age, and if you think back to what it was like to have your bones elongating, it's no wonder the pain brings about tears in little people.

Thankfully, the pain us not constant, and it's just gradual enough to where your child doesn't usually look taller in the morning. From one month to the next, their pants are shorter, though, so the evidence is certainly there. Growth took place. Tears and pain were endured, but it was not in vain.

As Christians, we should be looking out for growing pains all our lives. Perhaps not the physical kind, but the emotional and spiritual variety. When the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, we will not remain stagnant and unchanged. We may not see our growth from one day to the next, but often we will feel the stretch, the pain, the discomfort or unsettledness. This may even be accompanied by tears and sleepless nights.

Hopefully, over the years, those who know us will be able to see the evidence of growth in our lives. We may be more patient, more gentle, more joyful. Perhaps where we were once quick to pass judgement, we are able to reach out in love. Maybe what once would've ruffled our feathers or had us completely stressed out will now be seen as an opportunity to exercise faithfulness.

Growth, at least spiritual growth, doesn't just happen because years pass by. You may know people who are mature in years, but have no more spiritual maturity or evidence of the fruit of the Spirit than they did decades before. Being older certainly doesn't automatically make you wiser or more godly.

So how do we grow? Through our trials. The words of the workout instructor on a DVD I recently purchased are true: "Don't be afraid of the pain. Getting through the discomfort is what makes your body react and respond, and begin to change."

There's not going to be much growth if we aren't willing to endure the growing pains. But take heart, my friend, for "blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12

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