Friday, March 21, 2014

Comfort or Growth

“God cares more about your healing and growth than he does about your comfort."  When I first heard it, I cringed.  The thought unsettled me.  I like to think that God wants me comfortable and happy.  Consequently, I started checking the Bible to see if maybe, just maybe, this person was wrong.  I thought of the Children of Israel at the Red Sea.  He did not give them a get out of trial free card.  Nope, they had to go through the sea.  He wanted them to trust him and not turn back.  I thought of the times in the New Testament when Jesus said things that seemed harsh.  It occurred to me that possibly some of what we see as harshness is only Jesus loving the person enough to care more about their spiritual condition than about their comfort. Wow!  I think we live in a time where we are so afraid of hurting someone that we fail to say what they need to hear.  A few years back, I was pushing 200 pounds.  I would get on the scale look at it and then whine about how fat was getting.  However, that was as far as it went.  Finally, one day my daughter looked at me and said, “Well, what are you going to do about it?”  That hurt; it was uncomfortable.  It was also just what I needed to get me off my rear and do what I needed to do to lose the extra weight.  The most loving thing she did was say what seemed cruel at that moment.  How often do we care enough about the people we know to say the hard things that may make us unpopular with them for a time so that they may develop as a Christian?  Often, I fear I am guilty of not being bold enough to risk saying the tough things.  My goal is to be strong enough that if I know, what I need to say is for their growth and not meant to tear them down; I will speak the words they need to hear.   Then I will help them grow and encourage them.  God helped the Israelites cross the Red Sea.  Jesus also extended help to those who truly wanted his help.  I should also add that my daughter became my biggest cheerleader and encourager when I started to lose the weight.  Growth is not always comfortable.