I invite you to think about where you were in your life five years ago, think about where you were ten years ago. Has there been progress in your development, has there been growth?
I would have to answer this question with a resounding HECK YEAH. I have a tendency to examine my life up close, the day to day. I judge my life on immediate results. For example, weight loss or strength training, we all want immediate results, right? After all, if we’re going to put in the time to exercise and have to cut out the foods we enjoy, we want to see the pay off – and see it fast.
We are no different when we view our lives. I understand having that immediate gratification mentality because I’ve been there and at times still go back there. In order to stay encouraged we put pressure on ourselves to see something moving in the right direction and see it almost immediately. Why do we look at what is or isn’t happening today or this month and not the whole of our life? The clarity, peace and sustainability that comes from gratitude is huge. When we can celebrate what He has done in us and through us, not just the last few weeks or months but really look at it from a birds-eye view. It causes us to…
- Remember, recall what He has done, not what isn’t happening right now
- It causes faith to arise within us, if He did it then, He will do it again
- It causes us to celebrate the good and the bad – to celebrate our growth
If you find yourself in a place where things aren’t moving in the right direction or the direction you planned, you’ve had setbacks, or you find yourself in pain. Back up from it. Take two minutes right now and remember, remember where you were years ago and think through the progress and growth. Living the abundant life doesn’t mean never having a bad day, never having disappointments or never walking through pain. The abundant life contains ALL those things. What makes it abundant? Jesus in His goodness will cause the pain and setbacks to have a redeeming result within me. He is the only One that can take our disappointment and exchange it out for our benefit, our growth.
Yeah okay, things might not have worked out the way you wanted, you might have been passed over for the job you felt you would be perfect for. The engagement was called off by someone that you thought you would spend forever with. For every instance in my life where I had setbacks – growth happened. More than likely it’s usually not immediate, what’s usually immediate is shock, disappointment, the hurt and or the anger. But once I work through all of those normal God-created emotions (yes, He gave us emotions) and I take in the birds-eye view, when I back up away from it all, there I see it. I went through a period of time of about four years in my life that I describe as “hell”. That hell made me who I am right now. I couldn’t possibly be where I am in my growth had I not experienced the turmoil of those years. Did God send it? Absolutely not. I think it’s absurd when believers who are supposed to be living on this side of the cross believe that God sends sickness, disease, premature death, or any kind of tragic loss to teach us a good character lesson. That’s not who He is. If you really believe that, I encourage you to dig deep into who the Father is and what was accomplished through Jesus.
He promises to work all things out for our benefit. What that doesn’t mean is that it will work out the way I hoped; it means He works it out to benefit me – my growth.
“So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.” Romans 8:28 The Passion Translation
So today, celebrate your growth. Keep going, keep growing. Growth is sustainable as long as you stay in gratitude for the whole and not just the parts we understand or like. You really have come a long way.