That happens to me all the time, and the other day it happened in such a way that sort of surprised me. I had heard a Christian song that spoke of the Lord tilling through the soil of our heart to truly change us. That song led to thoughts of how painful it can be when real Christian growth happens, and that thought led me to my friend Tony, from highschool.
When Tony was in his sophmore year, he was of average height for boys his age. As it often happens though, in a very short period of time he had a growing spurt that was more like an explosion, and landed him in the hospital. Over the course of one spring and summer, Tony grew so much that his leg joints required a surgical procedure to keep them together. He had to have surgical pins put in place, to keep his legs from literally growing right of their joints. He ended up with a lot of pain, several surgical scars, and a lot of stretch marks on his skin that he was rather ashamed of. By the time he was done he was almost a foot taller than where he was when the growth explosion started. I remember his mom telling me once that she was so worried that he was growing far too much, and far too fast. At the time of the growing explosion, the doctors he had coudn't assure her when it would slow down, or how tall he might be when it was over. As a mom, it deeply troubled her heart to see her boy suffer through so much pain in the course of growing. I think all parents can understand that one.
So the Christian song led my thoughts to the physical, then back to the spiritual. For anyone who's been a Christian for any length of time, you already know that real spiritual growth can often be accompanied by a substantial amount of pain. It can be an actual physical pain in the sense of a chronic or serious illness or medical condition that drives you to your knees and forces your mind and heart to dwell on the goodness and mercy of God. It can also be a deep spiritual pain that causes you to truly grieve over your own sinfulness and sinful reactions, and through tears and a broken heart seek the Lord's wisdom and direction. It can also be that you might be suffering helpless through the painful events of something happening to someone you love, that can be the starting place for genuine spiritual growth - in you or in them.
In my circle of friends and family, I know Christians who have or who are currently going through all three of these kinds of times of growth. In my own life, they seem to be the three areas where I've experienced the most significant growth. There is something to be said for broken hearts, broken relationships and broken bodies, when that brokenness is something that has to take place to steer you into a more mature relationship with our Lord. It can hurt, and it can hurt a lot, but it's not a useless pain that we just have to grit our teeth and suffer through until its over. Its the kind of pain God uses to get our attention, divert it to Him, and be still and know that He is God.
The growing is in the being still, even when it hurts.