Growing pains are no fun whatsoever. I remember from when I was younger that I hated the feeling associated with them. I used to wake up to my legs hurting so bad from these stupid growing pains, and I was so ready to be done with them.
As I look back on them now, I can’t help but be glad that the growing pains happened. Otherwise, I would still be the same size I was as a toddler. How weird would that be?
I’ve been in a season of growth lately, figuring out more and more who I really am, who I really want to be, and what I want to do in my life. I’ve been going through quite a bit of stretching, and the idea I’ve cycled back to has always been that we were made to stretch. That’s what our purpose in life is, to grow and change into who God wants me to be.
When I played soccer in high school, our coach made us stretch before every practice and game. It frustrated me because I didn’t sign up or give an effort to just stretch.
Once again, looking back, I come to this conclusion: in order to move to the next step, we must stretch and be ready for it. I couldn’t have practiced or played well, had I not stretched myself in preparation. I would’ve most likely hurt myself by tearing a ligament or pulling a muscle.
Maybe you can relate to that. Maybe you can understand where I’m coming from, because stretching has been necessary in your life. You had to stretch your knowledge to get into that college. You had to stretch outside of your comfort zone to prove yourself at work. You had to stretch your energy to maintain your commitments.
Stretching is not unique to just us, here in the 21st century. The Apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, wrote about some of his stretching when he wrote to the church at Corinth. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 says this:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I weak, then I am strong.
Paul received visions from God about heaven, which he was telling the Corinthian readers about, and that was a big deal. His relationship with God was incredibly close, and God allowed him to see some really cool things. But that’s not the purpose of the text.
The purpose is to show that God was stretching Paul and showing him his weaknesses. Paul was going through a humbling experience with this “thorn” in his side. He saw who he was in light of who God is, and saw how weak he as a human being really was.
Normally, when our weaknesses are revealed and emphasized, we tend to run. We tend to withdraw and sulk because something that we didn’t want people to see is now visible. But that’s not how Paul acted.
He says that he will “boast all the more gladly of [his] weaknesses.” Why? “[S]o that the power of Christ may rest upon [him].”
That’s what stretching is: seeing our weaknesses, and using them to glorify God.
We were made to give God glory. The chief end of man is identified as “to glorify to God and enjoy Him forever.”
So what should we do, knowing what Paul did?
Be okay with being weak. Weakness is NOT bad. It’s actually good, because it’s a sign that God is working in you to stretch you and prepare you for what He has planned next for you.
If we don’t stretch, we get hurt when we try to move on to what’s next. We can’t grow, we can’t be strong, we can’t follow God without stretching and realizing our weaknesses.