“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
word count: 500 read time: ~2 minute
As a young boy, growth came easy. It would seem at times that I would wake up in the morning taller than I went to bed the night before. During my teen years I had times when my body was actually sore because of the growth I was experiencing. In my early twenties, I had been lifting weights fairly regularly and even acquired some fine lines on my skin otherwise known as “stretch marks”.
Spiritually speaking, growth also has its pain points and occasionally we obtain a few “spiritual stretch marks” of our own. You may go through a season of transition or change in which you are taken out of your comfort zone and begin to feel stretched in your thinking, stretched in your emotions or stretched by life’s pressures and trials. In these circumstances God is growing you and stretching your inner man.
Here is how the Apostle Paul described his own season of being stretched:
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)
Hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down and dying are the ways Paul described how his own life was being stretched for the purposes of God. It sounds painful doesn’t it? Despite the pain he felt, Paul recognized God’s sustaining grace. He was not crushed, not in despair, not forsaken, not destroyed and was as a result experiencing the life of Jesus both in his flesh and in his ministry.
As believers in Jesus, our lives are a continual work in progress. God is molding and shaping us to be conformed into the image and likeness of his son Jesus. (Romans 8:29) For any of us to live, speak and act like Christ requires growth, change and stretching. The process can be painful, but the end result is deeply satisfying. We begin to see the life of Jesus manifested in our life and ministry!
No hard time, difficulty or trial is wasted in God’s economy. Just as Jesus’ nail marks provided for our redemption, so every stretching moment is a set up for God to grow our faith and character. We may feel the pain of growth and even obtain a few “spiritual stretch marks” in the process, but we can be assured that the end result will always be good. God’s grace is sufficient to sustain us through the most painful trials and see us come out stronger and more like Jesus.
If you enjoyed it, you may also enjoy, my book Born to Grow.
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