In sixth grade I was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. My doctor was convinced that without daily shots of extra hormones, I was doomed to be only 4' 9'' as an adult. With great resistance (and many irrational tears) I began to endure this
vicious tiny needle attack. I had been vastly shorter than my peers all my life. I was never going to be Cindy Crawford. What was the point of this barbaric course of action? No thanks. I don't want to grow thatway.
Isn't this what we often say to God? No thanks God, I'd prefer to grow my faith without the presence of trials. I'd like to become as faithful as Paul, Moses, Sarah, or Abraham without any hardships. But all of these men and women endured painful trials that in turn, produced an enviable endurance and a steadfast hope. (Romans 5:3-5)
The growth producing potential lies in the choice we make in the moment of pressure.
Trials are inevitable. When they come, will you chose to push into the painful growth process?
Or will you allow a bitter hardness to consume you and stop you in your well-intentioned growth tracks?
So many examples of intentional growth through trials exist in the Bible. Let's just suppose for a moment that these faithful people had refused to embrace God's allowed circumstances:
1. Mary- Upon learning that she was pregnant with the Messiah, what if Mary had said, "No thanks God, please don't bless me this way!"
2. Joseph- Would Joseph have chosen to be betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery? To be unnecessarily held as a slave in an Egyptian prison? What if Joseph had allowed these unsavory circumstances to dictate his faith in a God who allows tough times for His followers?
3. David- When David was fleeing for years on end from a relentless Saul, could he have chosen prolonged bitterness? Anger? A loss of faith in God's promise that he would be King?
4. Jonah- For the level of resistance that Jonah displayed in his quest to avoid God's plan, when he was spit out of the whale's belly Jonah still could have tried to flee. He could have gone about God's business with a disingenuous heart and an impure motive to avoid further punishment. But Jonah made a different choice.
5. Job- Of course Job could have chosen to reject God's goodness through all the incredible losses he endured. And yet at the end of Job's horribly difficult path, he affirms his belief in a good and just God:
Job 42:1-2- Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
6. Jesus- When Jesus faced the ultimate sacrifice- death on the cross- Jesus tearfully begged God to provide another way. What if Jesus had not uttered the word "nevertheless"? What hope of salvation would we have without the choice of Jesus to obey the difficult will of God?
Luke 22:41-42- And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."
These moments of choice display a willingness to trust God no matter the circumstance. To believe that He is still working in spite of the wrong choices of others. Sometimes we become so fixated on the way we've been wronged that we no longer see God accomplishing His purposes in us day by day. The choice to follow, or not to follow is always in our hands. To grow our faith or to let our hearts become hard, barren places that God is not welcome.
I'm ready to embrace God's plan for me. To know that these tough times allow a growth that couldn't come any other way. God is not to blame for our pain, but He does allow brokenness to occur in a sinful world and often we experience pain inflicted by others who are in pain. Hurt people, hurt other people and then it's time to make your choice.
Whom will you serve? How will your story embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly? How will today's trials shape your faith?
Bravely reflect on those times of pain my friend, and how God grew you in the midst of emotional deluge and exhausted wandering.
In case you were wondering, I took those growth hormones for about a year. If you've met me in person, you can smile knowing that I'm barely 4'11'' today...but perhaps God was using what seemed to be a huge upset in my life to prepare me for something harder just down my path a few years...a time during my divorce when I would be prepared to finally say, "Yes God, please grow me in any way you see fit. Trials will come, but I chose You."
Romans 5:3-5 We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Come back next week for the conclusion of our Spiritual Growth Study: 5 Ways God Uses Others to Help Us Grow