“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2, NIV).
The Oxford definition of “grow” is for a living thing to 1. undergo natural development by increasing in size and changing physically; progress to maturity. 2. to become larger or greater over a period of time. I am sure we all have felt and recognized physical growing pains, but have you ever experienced spiritual growing pains? Have you ever suffered a loss of a loved one, or lived through difficult experiences and felt overwhelming pain? Just like physical growing pains, these life experiences, although temporary, can be excruciatingly painful.
These moments are part of your spiritual growth, intended to help you increase in size, progress to maturity, and become larger or greater over a period of time. Unfortunately, many people do not view difficult times as an opportunity for growth. Although trials can be severe and painful, as Christians we can see through our tears and realize that God has a good intention in taking us through this sorrow. In Romans 5, we are told suffering will produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5, NIV)
There are three kinds of tribulations spoken of in the New Testament: persecution, poverty, and sickness. Have you experienced any of these in your lifetime? I am sure you have and wonder why God allows these things to happen to us if He loves us? It is because He loves us that He allows these trials in our lives. He gives us the Holy Spirit and empowers us to face these trials with confidence through His Word. He wants us to lean on Him and trust that we will increase in character when we are facing trials and tribulations. We must take up the shield of faith and rejoice in times of pain and sorrow knowing that the growing pains precede full growth and maturity in Christ.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12, NIV)