We all want growth in our Christian walks.
We read books, attend seminars, join support groups, and lift up change-oriented prayers as a large percentage of our requests to God.
But, it seems there is a type of growth none of us aspire to gain.
In fact, if you are like me, we seek to avoid it.
Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,”
Paul links suffering and endurance to character growth.
I doubt we will see a touring seminar or conference based on this premise in the future.
“Come to the Exponential Growth Seminar! We will make your life miserable, inflicting all kinds of hardship and difficulty on you for the purpose of sparking change! Register now for the early bird discount!”
I don’t think this will fly! This is growth no one wants!
But, there is an element to this we know is true. So many of us can reflect on difficult times in our past, acknowledging how hard it was, but in the end concluding it was “sooo good”.
This is reflective of God’s ability to take anything life throws at us and turn it for good.(Romans 8:28) While not causing the hardship or sufferings, we know God will work something positive out of the worst life has to offer.
While I know this, I still attempt to prevent any hardship and fix even the smallest of problems.
Suffering is a recipe for growth.
Hard times built character and endurance. The Bible says so and the testimony of our lives attest to this reality.
While not encouraging folks to go out and seek persecution, we can have a different attitude when we find ourselves in a place of difficulty.
My African bothers and sisters have taught me something powerful. When they face hardship, the prayers which come are different from those of us in North America or Europe.
We beg God to take the hardship away.
Africans pray for the strength to endure.
I think this prayer lines up with what we see Paul speaking of in Romans 5.
Endure suffering for it will produce character in you. In fact, he says “Rejoice”.
Growth is hard work. It’s not something we pick up at a drive through or the local quick mart.
I’m challenged in my response to difficulty or even everyday inconvenience. Is it an annoyance? Do I seek to avoid this at all costs?
Or can I embrace difficulty as an agent of change which can produce character and growth in my life?
Photo credit: Neil. Moralee via photopin cc