Saturday, May 12, 2007

When Growth Hurts

When doesn't it hurt, is the question? I wonder if our concept of growth is skewed, or maybe even totally opposite of what the ideal conditions are as designed by God. Doesn't the gardener know the best growing conditions for his garden? When did the vegetables ever resist the gardener's plans? Does the clay complain that the potter doesn't know what he is doing?

Scenario #1: Warm and fuzzy things make us feel like we have become strong. Life is good only when it is pain-free. This view says that growth happens when we look back after storms and smile at how God took us through. "My, how you've grown. How sweet!" says grandma! But mom's take is quite different. Her view from day-to-day is probably a much less sweet perspective. This grandparental view is not wrong, but there is much more involved in growth than a fond admiration for the end product. How much deeper the appreciation when the pressures have been borne well. Mom and Dad would be quick to point out the constant growing pains of consistent disciplined training with its necessary corrections, reproofs, and non-stop instructions! Absolutely nothing negative intended towards grandparents, (I am one). But without the tough training of the parents, we might lean towards a pain-free, problem-sparing upbringing. What kind of maturity would result in a struggle-free adolescence? A weak and whiny adulthood.

Scenario #2: Pain happens, and pressures do their pressing on everybody. But agonizing struggles ultimately produce peaceable fruits of righteousness when the gardener is trusted, and when the potter is patiently allowed to do his molding. Remembering the bigger picture, even when the vice seems to be twisting ever tighter, is our best medicine. God's purpose in pressure is refining, maturing, strenthening, and even chastening those he loves. Without seeing his purpose, our responses only frustrate and drive us to further defiance. Without realizing it, we further twist those vice grips.

If life is about growth, then the hurting never stops! It is our view of it that must change. The book of Psalms was written by those who learned to deal with enormous pressures and yet managed to genuinely rejoice on a regular basis. Growth will hurt, but it has its intended purpose. We can survive only with the supernatural help of our Owner. Without any problems, we would have no needs. Our weaknesses serve to show us our desperate dependance on our Creator. His strength, he says, is made perfect in our weakness, (our hurting). The more we hurt, the greater his readiness to reveal Himself in the midst of it all.

Be encouraged. When life hurts, He is growing us. Sometimes we say, "not so fast, please!" But He never gives more than we can handle. He prescribes for us exactly what we need. His fruit soon ripens, and the lumpy clay soon becomes a valuable vessel of honor. Are we not of more value to Him than fruit and pottery?

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