Why does spiritual growth require so much struggle? Why isn’t it easy?
In his book Disappointment With God, Philip Yancey writes,
Human beings grow by striving, working, stretching; and in a sense, human nature needs problems more than solutions. Why are not all prayers answered magically and instantly? Why must every convert travel the same tedious path of spiritual discipline? Because persistent prayer, and fasting, and study, and meditation are designed primarily for our sakes, not for God’s. Kierkegaard said that Christians reminded him of schoolboys who want to look up the answers in the back of the book rather than work them through…We yearn for shortcuts. But shortcuts usually lead away from growth, not toward it. Apply the principle directly to Job: what was the final result of the testing he went through? As Rabbi Abraham Herschel observed, “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.” (pp. 207-8)
James, the half-brother of Jesus, writes this in his book, which sounds very similar:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Spiritual growth requires struggle because, to put it frankly, it’s the only way it can happen. God knows that, but we either don’t or don’t like it. If we would grow spiritually, it must include striving, working, stretching. No shortcuts are available or possible. May we know and accept that as we live Coram Deo — before the face of God.