"…the testing of your faith produces endurance" - James 1:3
Our beautiful granddaughter Lucy continues to grow. She was born 5 lbs, 12 ounces, lost a few ounces the next few days, but she is gaining weight and filling out. While we were in the hospital, following her birth, the nurse explained the best way for Elizabeth to breast feed Lucy," You have to remove her warm outfit and blankets because she won't eat if she's too cozy." Apparently, newborns have to be a bit uncomfortable to sense the need to eat. Otherwise, they focus too much on their slumber.
The truth is, we adults have to be uncomfortable as well. When we're cozy, we rarely acknowledge our needs. And it's that acknowledgement of need that begins the process of growth in our lives. When we're in a spirit of dependence, God can teach us and grow us. It's that attitude of need that leads us to the nourishment we need to stay healthy. There are several ingredients that produce an attitude of growth:
Humility. We grow the most when we're the least prideful. Lucy is just a few weeks old and totally dependent on her mommy. She has yet to argue with Elizabeth about whether she should be fed or not. When Lucy's "meal" is served, she simply submits, latches on and fills her tummy. She doesn't claim to be "self sufficient" or demand her independence, she submits entirely to her mom. Perhaps that's why Jesus challenged us to have "faith like a child." He knows that when we're totally dependent on Him, we're in a great place of humility, freedom and growth.
Trials. God is a trial machine. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Of course, we're convinced that if our lives were trial free, we'd be just fine. But when we "encounter various trials" we're actually being given an opportunity to grow. Just like Lucy's hunger, we can follow our trials to a place of nourishment and endurance. That's why we can "consider it all joy." When the blankets were removed from Lucy, she didn't fret over the lack of warmth. Instead, she rejoiced over the meal provided. We too have a choice to fret over the trial or rejoice in His comfort.
Trust. Paul reminds us that it's not about the watering or the planting, but God who causes growth. "So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth" -1Cor. 3:7.
Ultimately, when we decide to trust God and our circumstances, we grow in our faith and trust. In 2nd Corinthians 12, Paul describes a "thorn" that was given to him. He writes that he prayed for it to be removed, but God said he needed to have it to keep "from exalting myself." Paul trusted that God had a plan. Lucy has an innate trust that her mommy will take care of her. And Elizabeth has a deep love for both of her girls.
Lucy continues to fill out and gain weight. She is growing up in a wonderful atmosphere of growth. God is in the business of creating these atmospheres of growth in our lives. That's the purpose of difficulty and trials.
So, when the blankets are being pulled away from your life, focus on the One who gives nourishment and life. Instead of asking "why", focus on the Lord, the source of growth.
And let your tummy be filled with peace.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©