I’ve been thinking lately about how good things always seem to sting at first. It seems like nothing good ever comes out of being comfortable but instead it comes out of enduring some sort of pain or discomfort. Doing the right thing is never easy.
Think about it... in order to receive the benefits of being healthy, you must first endure the prick of the needle that applies the medicine. This small example seems to speak the same truth of almost all good things that happen. Now by “good things” in this instance I’m not speaking of everyday pleasantries or enjoyments, but things that really progress one’s circumstances and have long-term benefits to our lives.
Just so we’re on the same page I’ll give more examples. Think about how in order to reap the benefits of a successful career one must first endure getting an education and/or proper training. For a family to know the blessing of raising a child, the mother must endure months of pregnancy and the labor of child birth. Or how in order to achieve that perfect physique you have to work long and hard exercise routines and keep a strict diet. All of these things start with hard things that we have to endure. But when it’s all said and done, the ends always justify the means.
I think sometimes we forget how important it is to endure struggle and hardships. Most of the time we’re not thinking about the blessings we might receive on the other side, but only dwell on the pain it might take to get there. I personally struggle with this constantly in my walk with Christ. I do my best to avoid the trials that God puts before me instead of enduring them with the faith that He will bless me through them. *Side Note* Now some might argue that we shouldn’t focus on what we get out of the trial but what God gets out of our labor. I would reply that if you do not focus on the prize that you will receive then you are merely serving God out of obligation and duty as opposed to the joy and hope that He has promised you. God wants you to be joyful in your suffering because you have a reason to, not just because He says so.
Now so far this just sounds like another “trials and sufferings” sermon that we’ve all heard. But really my thought process in this has to do with the fact that life is full of times where rich blessings only come after we challenge ourselves to do something new, uncomfortable, and hard. The salvation process rings of this in the fact that admitting you’re a sinner is not an easy thing to do. It hurts to come to the realization that you’re not in control of your life and you’re NOT a good person. But as we will find, the benefits of a life with Christ far surpass the comfort we sacrificed to get there.
As we continue in our walk the process keeps repeating itself. The more we dig into the word the more convicted we become of our sin. So God calls us to repent and admit to Him(and sometimes to others) that we keep failing. But the restoration process that follows that admittance proves to be worth the pain we endured. In our relationships with others the thought of sharing deep personal issues, or confronting friends about their problems is unsettling to us. And yet if we would just endure that initial pinch of discomfort we would enjoy a bond that would grow stronger and closer than ever.
For me personally, there have been several instances in my life where God has urged me to test my understanding of Him and I was scared of the process He might lead me through. Things that I always believed were true about scripture and the work of Christ were suddenly being challenged in my mind. I had to come to terms with understanding God differently than I had before. The thought of questioning my understanding of God scared me because I was afraid I would abandon the faith I’d always known. But the knowledge of God that He granted me in the end far outweighed the cost it took to get there. By challenging my faith it was only made stronger.
In the life of a church this phenomenon must be understood in order to establish a healthy, Biblical body of believers. There must be understanding that not everyone is going to feel good about everything. Sometimes when conflicts arise, there must be more conflict in order to reach a resolution. When members act un-biblically by causing dissension or acting against authority, there must be discipline and sometimes dismissal. All of these bring an air of unrest and discomfort for people because it challenges their understanding of how a church works. But they must always remember that doing the right thing is never easy.
So my challenge for you is this... do not be afraid to endure uncomfortable, stinging circumstances. Challenge yourself to do things that are new and different and see how God will use those to make you stronger. If there’s something about a situation that scares you, search it out and try to gain understanding of why you’re uncomfortable with it. More times than not God will work in ways that involve hardships at first, and sometimes that’s the best way to recognize where He’s guiding you.