Director of Discipleship
“Dear brothers and sisters, when
troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance
to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be
perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Watch any amount of weekend TV (and its commercials) and you’ll be aware of a common medical condition called heartburn. When the condition becomes chronic it’s called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). As a diagnosed GERD patient, I was all too familiar with the pain of acid reflux, and was delighted when my doctor advised me to start taking an amazing pill daily that would eliminate most of my stomach acid and, consequently, the reflux! As promised, the pain went away and for 3 or 4 years, I faithfully took the medicine. The best part was that I had almost no pain or discomfort and I didn’t even have to change my lifestyle or eating habits!
The Bad News about the Quick Fix
What I didn’t know (and the doctor hadn’t told me), is that stomach acid actually serves an important purpose. The acid basically unlocks the food to allow the vitamins and minerals to be absorbed. When the acid was eliminated, my body became increasingly anemic from the inability to absorb iron, weak and malnourished from the inability to absorb calcium, Vitamin D and other key vitamins.
The Better Solution
Once I became aware of the negative side effects, I was able to slowly get off the medication and begin learning a new way to eat/live. Slowly but surely, my health rebounded and my body regained its strength. I still have occasional discomfort, but I have learned strategies to cope with the condition.
The difficult experiences we go through in this life are a lot like acid reflux—uncomfortable and even painful. We just want the pain to go away. If we’re honest, we don’t fully understand why God lets bad things happen to us or our loved ones. However, God is a lot smarter than my well-meaning doctor. He knows that trials actually allow us to absorb the spiritual truths we need in order to grow and mature as followers of Jesus Christ. While God doesn’t generally remove all the trials from our lives, he does provide guidance for us on how to live our lives in ways that minimize the pain and help us to cope through trials.
Regular doses of prayer, reading and thinking about scripture, and developing relationships with other believers all serve to reduce the pain and fear that can accompany difficult experiences. These steps help us to cope as we grow stronger in our spiritual journeys, and absorb the spiritual nourishment we need to flourish!
Talk about it:
- How has God used the hardships in your life to draw you closer to Him?
- In what ways do you try to find "quick fixes" to painful situations?
- Have you reached a point in which you can thank God for allowing you go through trials?