April 14th Devotion

Why Growing Hurts
By Ashley Moore 

“Not only that, but 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.” - Romans 5:3-5, ESV

“My legs hurt Mommy”, her little voice piped from the back seat. "It's probably just growing pains, it will pass in a bit," I chimed back to my four-year-old. Isn’t it strange that something God desires us to do is painful? While our flesh certainly does not like the pain of growth, it pleases the Lord to see us grow and mature. And not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and relationally, too.

Have you ever experienced the discomfort of growth? Maybe in your time with the Lord, you sense Him prompting you to curb your sharp tongue with your spouse and children, but it's just so difficult! Perhaps, you know God wants you to give up an extra fifteen minutes of sleep to dig into His Word before work, but it’s painfully hard to rip your head away from your pillow in the mornings. Or maybe, you sense God wants you to forgive someone for hurting you, but it hurts too much to revisit what they did to you.

I don’t know that we will ever understand why God uses pain as a pathway to growth, but He often does. Scripture says it like this: we can rejoice in our pain because it is producing endurance, character, and hope (Romans 3:3-5). Or simply stated: pain produces growth. So why is it that we are so resistant to growth?

Growth is Exhausting
Our brains must work overtime when we are learning something new. Anyone who has experienced navigating a learning curve knows this tiredness well. Our brain is forming new neural pathways. It's kind of like making a new trail in the woods. First, you must clear out all the existing trees and then you must go over the trail again and again before you travel this trail with ease.

It’s the same way with our minds. Learning a new way to live requires we clear old ways for new habits. Growth is possible, and change can happen, but it takes a lot longer than we want it to– which can be exhausting. Because of this, we can often become resistant to the painstaking process of change.

Growth Causes Pain
If you have ever worked in a garden or tended to plants, you are probably familiar with pruning. This is where parts of a plant that aren’t producing fruit are cut off, so it will give nutrients to the parts producing fruit. Sometimes perfectly fine parts of plants can be pruned to produce more fruit. A plant can be pruned because it is not producing, or because a gardener just wants to see it produce a more abundant crop.

God prunes us, too. Sometimes because there are parts of our lives that are not producing good fruit. He may remove a habit that isn’t glorifying Him. Or perhaps there is an area of our lives He wants to see multiply, so in His desire to see growth something/someone is removed. It can leave us feeling exposed and looking a little scant, like plants in early Spring. Because this process is not fun and doesn’t immediately produce tangible results, we can attempt to avoid it altogether.

Growth hurts, but we can trust it is producing something good and beautiful in us that we wouldn’t experience otherwise. My little girl must endure growing pains to reach the full potential of her physical height. We, too, must endure growing pains to reach the hope produced on the other side of our suffering (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Intersecting Life and Faith:
Where in your past have you experienced a season of growth? What was painful about it? What did that season produce? Journal your responses and praise God for helping you endure the growth process!
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