Ever heard the word Christianese? It’s the idea that in Christian circles there are certain words we use so much they become part of their own language. Christianese is a collection of overused buzzwords that have lost their punch after being the first thing on a person’s lips for so long. They’re words like “intentional” “calling”, or “fellowship”
There is one that’s my absolute least favorite though: Growth. Growth is such a buzzword in Christian culture. Let me be clear, I don’t hate the use of this word. Tell me all about how you’ve grown. Let’s chat about it, by all means. What I can’t stand about the word growth is how it’s used to water down experiences that were never meant to be watered down to something so simple.
When we only use the word growth, we start to look at God as some passive, happy go lucky gardener tending his daffodils. The daffodils being us. There he stands, humming with his watering can, sprinkling his garden with a fresh drink of water, not a care in the world. There’s no rush for the daffodils after all.
Daffodils grow slowly after avoiding the long harsh months of winter. They gently pop above ground and grow centimeter by centimeter in the happy warmth of springtime. It’s a long process, yes, but one without strenuous activity, pain, or hardship on the part of the daffodil.
We may be a lot of things, but we are definitely not like daffodils.
Not us. No, God is not growing us. He is forging us. Even those of us who haven’t grown up casually blacksmithing know enough about the process to see what a difference there is between the two. Forging is not a gentle process. It's full of heat and strength. Metal is being beaten to new shape, heated to unbearable temperatures and then plunged into startlingly cool water just to be put through the same process again. It's a near vicious process for the metal, but oh does it yield results. No part of this is just for grins and giggles. It’s all designed to make something lasting, permanent, formidable, and strong. Forging produces swords, not flowers.
Now I ask you, in the world that has trials and oppositions such as the ones we tend to experience which would you rather be? Forging is a painful process, but a remarkably useful and necessary one. I've never heard of a battle won by the strength of daffodils.
Know this, Christian, you do not have the time to be a daffodil. There is just too much at stake. If you wanted to grow instead of being forged, you should have picked a different religion. You will find no such comfort here. You don’t become a Christian to then live a soft and cozy life, just the opposite, really. You may find your life only getting harder. The difference is the purpose and opportunity behind the struggle.
Consider the words of James 1:2-4: “ 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”
Trials, which are the meat and potatoes of being forged in Christian living, have a purpose. They have use. They make us stronger. They bring us closer to God. The more we tackle trials with the intention of following God, the more we improve upon ourselves and the more prepared we are for the next big thing that wants to knock us down in this scary, fallen world.
There’s a reason we send soldiers to boot camp and not the spa.
If you feel life is treating you with undue harshness it is possible that now is the time to stay sharp and get ready. This might be just the beginning, and I do not mean that in some ominous, depressing way. We certainly take it that way sometimes, but it’s not. It’s not punishment, it’s preparation. What if we looked at the hardest moments of our lives not for the way they made us feel miserable in the moment but for how they equipped us for experiences coming down the line? The things you are going through now might be the very things that make you strong enough to help yourself and others further down the road. And that is a truly wonderful gift in the grand scheme of things.
Don’t waste your time with simple growth. Hop in the fire and be forged.
Let’s find some joy,