“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those HE LOVES, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 2:11-12) He who…loves (his son) is careful to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24)
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful…” (Hebrews 12:11)
I’ve become very aware in my life and in some recent conversations with believers, that although we all know we should “grow” and have a desire to “grow”, we often hit a stumbling block on HOW we grow. And that stumbling-block has everything to do with discomfort and pain.
As Americans, we’ve been trained to understand that life can be made painless. We really do live a fairly comfortable life, compared to most of the people on the planet. We miss few meals, and if so, by choice, not by lack of food available. Check our medicine cabinets – they are filled with all kinds of OTC and prescription remedies to bring pain relief in one form or another. And so, when it comes to American Christianity, we find ourselves recoiling at any experience that makes us uncomfortable or causes inner or outer pain. Internally, we have been trained to believe that no pain is good. And, even in the church, we avoid uncomfortable situations like the plague.
Pain itself is not the problem. Pain is the way God designed our body to indicate that something else is not functioning well and needs attention. If we ignore pain too often, we could easily put ourselves at greater risk of health failure.
Jesus packaged the wisdom of the Proverbs this way: “my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2) Notice who does the difficult (painful) work of pruning? It’s the Father! Someone we can TRUST! So, here’s the issue: Are you willing to trust your Father?
Combining Jesus’ words with the ancient wisdom of the Proverbs, we find a way to see discomfort in a positive, life-producing light.
EVERY ONE OF US experiences pain. Daily. Weekly. Seasonally. It can be in our body, in our emotions, or between our relationships. Also, some pain is out of our control. Some, if we are honest, we bring on ourselves. Proverbs & Jesus speak to both types. The only people who escaped pain were Adam & Eve before they sinned, and anyone who is already with the Lord in heaven. The rest of us must face it. And, we must do better at what we think about pain and discomfort. I’m suggesting, we let Jesus redeem the painful situations of our past or present, and allow Him to use them for our GROWTH!
I’m convinced that we will never grow unless we experience some discomfort or pain. Sometimes it’s because we are stubborn. Sometimes it’s just because we are human. Either way, pain is the agent of change.
Here’s another truth I’m discovering in numerous discipling relationships I’m involved with: Sometimes the discomfort comes through a difficult conversation with someone I love. This involves two points of discomfort. 1) The person who is bringing up the difficult subject often struggles with how to say it, or even if it should be said at all. 2) The person listening to the “rebuke” also can feel pinched or hurt by what is shared. To both of these, Proverbs has much to say:
“Rebuke a wise man and he will love you.(9:8)
He who walks with the wise grows wise (13:20)
So, this year, instead of running from pain, avoiding it, or denying it, or trying to face it alone, I invite you to GROW FROM YOUR PAIN. If you are finding yourself in an uncomfortable situation or relationship, ask God what He wants to teach you IN it and THROUGH it. And, find some trusted Christian friends to talk it through.
He who heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. (10:17)
He who ignores discipline comes to poverty & shame,
but whoever heeds correction is honored.(13:18)
Painfully yours J,