as i was growing up, i can recall times in my childhood when i would go through these intense times of pain. i recall my first experience with this pain. i went to my mom in tears. i was absolutely sure that i was dying. i wanted to curl up in bed and fall asleep, hoping to either dull the pain while i slept or eliminate the pain by the time i awoke. my mom negated my idea that i was dying on the inside and informed me that this discomfort i was feeling was actually just “growing pain.” discomfort? this was beyond that in my mind… and a term like “growing pain” made little sense to my simple mind. as far as i was concerned growing = good and pain = bad.
now it’s about ten to fifteen years later… all evidence of physical growth has subsided and i have reached my final height. but now i am discovering that this stage of my life brings a whole new set of “growing pains.” i experience these pains on a much deeper level. my heart aches and my soul groans. there are times where i want to trade these growing pains for the former physical discomfort.
recently, i began to experience a new season of these spiritual growing pains. emotionally, i thought i might die. i wanted to crawl into bed and fall asleep simply to numb the pain. i didn’t understand why this hurt was allowed into my life… then, i went to my heavenly Father, and He showed me that this pain had a purpose. this was a time of stretching, strengthening, and growth. through this pain, i would experience something incredible… i just had to seek Him. i had to trust Him. and i had to wait on Him.
Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God is working in me and He is using ways that i do not understand. why? because He says in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” until this point in my life, i was pretty sure i knew how life would be played out for the next several years. and until recently, it was all going exactly as planned… then BOOM!
i thought i had lost so much – love, direction, hopes, dreams, security… then i read farther in Philippians and found these verses where Paul says, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” with this perspective, i realized that these “losses” were nothing when compared to what i would gain – a closer relationship with Christ. He should be my first priority, my ultimate desire. In Luke 14:25, Jesus tells His disciples, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot by my disciple.” the word hate here is a comparative term. basically Jesus was saying, if you love any of these people more than me, than you cannot be my disciple. what a challenge! did i love God more than any one? truth be told, i can’t say that i did… and with this realization, i begin to thank God for the growing pains. i want to love Him more! He has loved me sacrificially and unconditionally! how could i have neglected such a perfect love for so long?
though i see God working in the growing pains, i often lost patience… the control freak in me says, “okay God, you have my attention. now let’s go. tell me what’s next.” but God says, “wait.” i read in Psalm 27:14, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, i say, on the Lord.” and in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” so often, when we come to a trial, we just focus on getting through it. but perhaps we should focus on what God wants to do in it. James 1:3-4 says, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect, and entire, wanting nothing.” God wants to use these growing pains to teach me, and if i lose patience, i might miss out on much of what God could show me. rushing through the pain could stunt my spiritual growth.
so, i choose to wait. i choose to cherish the growing pains. yes, they hurt at times; but i know that they are making my stronger. i am so thankful for a God who knows me better than i know myself, will do what it takes to bring me closer to Him, and only wants His absolute best for me!
Psalm 37:23 – The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in His way.
Proverbs 16:9 – A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.