I detest discomfort. From as far back as I can remember I have been this way. As a kid if my socks bunched up under my toes I would flip out. My socks had to fit perfectly, otherwise I just could not get past the discomfort.
I suspect this feeling characterizes most of us in western culture. We have such a disdain for discomfort that we avoid it at all costs. That’s why Americans spend over $2 billion a year on non-prescription pain killers. We can’t even stand a small headache. Now, while I think this presents a problem, I think this mindset of avoiding discomfort brings has another unintended consequence.
Most Christians in America carry their disdain for discomfort into their walk with God. The assumption is that God thinks the same way as we do. He will lead us down a path free of bumps, confusion, or discomfort. But I have found that to be the opposite of where God has lead me in my walk with Him. He seems to care little about my comfort level and more about the person He’s shaping me to be.
This is where my reaction to pain and discomfort brings up a serious issue. Often God leads me somewhere that strips me of my comfort. My first reaction to this is to object and search for a different path. I have seen this reaction to be true in my life and the lives of Christians around me. But when we take this way of thinking and apply it to our walk with God we become confused.
We assume that God wants to make our life better, ie easier. However God wants to make us better, ie more like Him. God cares less about our comfort level and more about the person we are becoming.
God takes the discomfort in our life to stretch us into the person He wants us to be. He is transforming us into a person full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. But instead of recognizing the work God is doing we look for ways to bail. What we often don’t realize is that the thing we are trying to get away from is the thing that God is trying to use to grow us.
The past 6-8 months have been a season of discomfort and uncertainty for my wife and I. We left our jobs, sold our house, put our stuff in storage, and hit the road not know where God was going to lead us. There were some really fun times and memories I won’t forget. However there were also some really difficult times where I doubted God would actually come through.
It’s a strange place to be in when you don’t know what’s coming next in life. When seemingly everything is out of your hands, totally reliant on God providing and no backup plan in place. Never have I been more uncomfortable than in this past season of life. My prayers sounded like a broken record: “God, please let this season end.”
But this time I did something different. This time, instead of following my natural instinct and bailing, I decided to keep trusting God. Believe me that wasn’t easy! Most mornings I would wake up wanting nothing more than to go out and take matters into my own hands. But I couldn’t. This time I saw the discomfort differently. I no longer viewed it as holding me back from having a good life. I saw it as shaping me into the man God wanted me to be.
Now on the other side I’m glad I didn’t bail. It wasn’t fun. I didn’t like it, and I don’t care to repeat this past season anytime soon. However it changed me; it put me in a place for God to mold me more into His image. And that is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Although with varying circumstances all of us will experience a season or two like this in life. And you will have to decide what to do with it. You can bail and try to get out yourself. And you very well might be able to make it better on your own. However, don’t miss out on what God is trying to teach you in that season. Don’t miss out on the person He molding you to be in that moment.
God doesn’t waste anything. Not a moment of pain or discomfort goes unnoticed or unused. If we let Him, He takes those seasons that we thought were going to end us and uses them to rebuild us.
I want to end with this scripture. This has long been one of my favorite books and one of my favorite passages. Check out what Paul says in Romans 8:18-30:
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.