In the midst of our comfortable lives, we often find ourselves hesitant to step out of our comfort zones. We prefer the familiar, the predictable, and the cozy. However, as followers of Christ, we are called to a life of growth through discomfort. In Philippians 4:13, the Apostle Paul declares, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” These words are a reminder of the incredible journey that Paul embarked upon, enduring countless trials and tribulations for the sake of the Gospel. Paul’s life was a testament to the idea that growth often comes through discomfort. He faced persecution, imprisonment, and numerous hardships as he spread the message of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul describes some of the challenges he faced, including beatings, shipwrecks, and hunger. Despite these difficulties, he persevered, trusting in the strength that Christ provided him, and considering everything a loss for the sake of being found in Christ Jesus, and proclaiming the gospel message.
The Book of Acts also offers insight into the early Christian Church’s growth through discomfort. The disciples faced intense persecution and adversity while spreading the Gospel. Yet, the Church continued to grow. In Acts 8:1, we read about the great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, which led to the scattering of believers throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Despite the fear and uncertainty, this dispersion allowed the message of Christ to reach new places and people. Acts 8:4 tells us that “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went”.
Today, we see a similar pattern in regions where Christians are persecuted. The modern persecuted Church continues to grow against all odds. Statistics reveal that Christianity is growing in places where believers face discrimination, violence, and oppression. This mirrors the early Church’s growth in the face of adversity. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center highlighted that regions with the highest levels of religious persecution often see the most rapid growth of the Christian faith. This data shows us that the Holy Spirit is still working through believers in all circumstances to spread the message of Christ.
Most of us live relatively comfortable lives compared to those who currently face persecution, and statistics show that Christianity in America is on the decline. It is incredibly hard to choose discomfort when we are used to comfort being readily available, but there are strong arguments suggesting that discomfort is exactly what we need to grow personally in Christ, and to add members to the Body of Christ.
Growth through discomfort is not only an essential aspect of our faith but also a source of inspiration and hope. Just as Paul endured countless hardships and persecution to spread the Gospel, and the early Church thrived in the face of adversity, we can also find strength and growth when we embrace discomfort and trust in Christ’s power to sustain us. My prayer is that we can see the discomfort of this world as a minor inconvenience when compared to the gift of eternal life in the presence of almighty God, and that when faced with the stagnation of comfort versus the painful growth of discomfort, we always choose the latter.