Read James 1:2-4
2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (MSG)
Many of us experience muscle and joint pain. Sometimes it is a result of illness or injury. Other times, it simply comes because we are exercising parts of our bodies that are not used to such exercises. Our bodies protest that we are forcing them to do things they would rather not do. And so we may have discomfort.
We can experience a similar discomfort when it comes to spiritual growth. Gaining greater maturity in our following of Jesus is not painless. All our inbuilt self-centredness and self-assertion protest against the need to surrender life to Jesus. In order to have us more dependent on him, he may call us to give up some other attachments which have provided some comfort for us.
There are no short cuts to spiritual maturity. Following Jesus is not our default option from birth. We are intent on going our own way and going Jesus’ way is not a bed of roses. So when we wonder why following Jesus proves troubling at times, we have to realise this is natural. Our very selves are being remade and refreshed and those selves would much prefer a more complacent way of life.
But as our text reminds us, the pain leads to gain.