Growing Pains of the Soul

As we grow older, popular minister Joel Gregory notes, it's nice to hink that we're not just growing rounder...or grayer, or balder. It is to be hoped we're growing wiser, too, more mature in spirit. But there's a natural hazard here. We naturally want to avoid pain; and the most substantial spiritual growth occurs in response to pain. In this book Gregory unfolds biblical truths to help us transform mere pain into growth. He deals with:

-Defeating depression
-Winning over worry
-Grappling with guilt
-Developing strength in life's tough times
-Acquiring "holy amnesia" (releasing the past)
-Growing through risk-taking
-Forgiveness (of ourselves and others)
-Redirecting our lives back toward God

The author notes that it's not usually major crises that make us wonder if we are growing spiritually, but the repetitive day-to-day aggravations. And when we become discouraged we wonder about God's care and providence. A major problem here, Gregory says, is that we assume that God's love means pain-free existence. The fact is, God's primary desire is not to make us happy but holy. And that blessed state requires a refiner's fire instead of a bed of roses.

God is also interested in long-term gains, whereas we are often looking for quick fixes. Avoiding problems occupies our daily energies; growing pains of the soul prepare us for eternity.