When Good Things Start to Hurt
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I was having coffee with one of the women I’ve been discipling last month. This is her first year in Kansas City, and in the few short months she’s been here, her growth has been exponential. The opportunity to be discipled, combined with an increased love for learning and heightened capacity to understand theological truth and apply it to her spiritual walk has made her year unforgettable.
Seeing such rapid and significant growth has been fascinating. The Bible uses cultivation language to talk about the lives of believers and how they interact with teachers, disciplers, and others who have influence in their lives – some water, some plant seeds, and some get to witness the harvest. Ultimately, God gives the growth, and every now and then, we get the privilege to watch other Christians bear fruit and flourish.
But, flourishing begs the question: what happens when all of that fast growth catches up to you? When the Lord is exposing your sin and working on your heart, it can be desperately painful.
Have you ever experienced this? The Lord exposes a sin, and by the grace of God, you respond to his prompting and begin killing it. The Lord gives you victory, and you have a community to confess to and to walk alongside of you. But after a few weeks, you begin to grow weary of talking about it, weary of re-opening wounds to clear out infection. You know it needs to happen, but the joy of growth is overrun by the growing pains that accompany your newness of life.
There’s something that just hurts about the rawness of sanctification. It’s good to grow, and be vulnerable and share and let the deepest parts of your life out. But often after a season of prolonged openness, that raw wound can begin to hurt: to recoil at the touch or even mention of it. We get bleary eyed, unable to actually process or discern because we’re just so tired of talking about it over and over.
The growth that we’re loving begins to stretch us at the seams, and reminds us that vulnerability creates a tender spot where tough skin used to be. This is such a tangible picture of the Lord refining us. And we want to be refined, no doubt! But often, I don’t think we realize what we’re truly asking for.
When we ask the Lord to grow us in holiness, he may do so by revealing indwelling sin that we have ignored or never seen before.
When we ask the Lord for wisdom, he may do so by bringing us difficult circumstances that stretch our discernment.
When we ask the Lord for patience, he may bring us trying times that test our commitment to selflessness.
Seeing the Lord redeem and restore brokenness is one of the gifts of the Christian life. These are the true miracles that we experience in our lives – seeing how the Lord redeems thoroughly broken people and introducing them to abundant life. To witness this over a series of months and years, this is a grace to the church, to see the Lord use awful circumstances, situations, or sin struggles to give us opportunities to delight in his glory and the good that he has for us.
But it takes courage to walk in full repentance. It takes trust to see the Lord expose the depths of our hearts to others. It takes endurance to do the work that comes with saying “yes” to the Holy Spirit — to listen, to respond, to engage the way that believers are called to do so.
When confession gets overwhelming –
When wounds start to sting,
When honesty feels like too much work,
Press into the gentle and lowly heart of Christ. Our weakness is the place where his strength abounds. He loves to bind up the wounds of the broken, and to restore those who need it. The Lord is for you — his sanctifying spirit is a gift to you. Press on, and press in, believer, and allow the Lord to be your strength.
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