Growing vs. Groaning – A Larger View of God
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)
“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.” Psalm 147:5 (ESV)
Life is constantly changing in one direction or another. For most of us there are moments to celebrate, moments to reflect, times of suffering, times of joy. One thing is certain: our lives never stay the same.
Regardless of how old you are, when you think back over your life journey do you feel like you’re the same person today you were yesterday, last week, last year, last decade?
Obviously, we learn more things and experience life in different ways as we grow older, but do you ever feel like a different person than you were before?
Scripture reminds us that a key purpose in life is to grow into the person God wants us to be from the inside out. In that way, we should always be changing, growing, continuously striving to better reflect the perfection God desires for us all.
Frozen in Time
Yet sometimes we find ourselves or those around us frozen in time – not growing with God, unable to see the larger picture He paints for us across the canvas of our lives.
You can always tell when someone, perhaps an old friend or family member, is stuck in time. As if they simply stopped growing or learning. Many times, they focus on what has gone wrong in their lives, what has happened to them, holding more onto the disappointments of yesterday than God’s promises for tomorrow.
I call it the groaning. Our life doesn’t always work according to our plans. Difficulties happen we weren’t prepared for. Our relationships are messy because people are flawed, and that’s including ourselves.
One example of this occurs in the Gospel of John, Chapter 5. Jesus is in Jerusalem and finds a man lying beside the pool of Bethesda. The man had been paralyzed for nearly forty years and came to the pool every day, waiting and hoping someone would carry him into the healing waters. He was stuck, frozen in time, trapped by memories of pain from his past. Jesus asks the man very simply “Would you like to get well?” When the man groans and insists he is unable to be made whole because of his circumstances, Jesus tells him to stand up, pick up his mat, and walk away.
The man was healed.
There are endless reasons we get fixated on our problems and struggles and soon become negative, refusing to believe in the hope of Christ’s ability to redeem us. Unchecked, we can easily look at our lives from our own small view and limited thinking.
But there is another way, a path to seeing the larger view of who God is and how He works in our lives!
We can grow spiritually in faith by acknowledging that God reigns sovereign in our lives – not the world, or what happens to us in the world. We grow by accepting that His abundant power is limitless. We grow when we match that belief with powerful prayers, aligning our will to God’s.
But make no mistake – this is a choice we must make. God does not force it on us. Nor does the choice to trust God minimize the reality that we are all still completely human, susceptible to all the frailties and hardships human life can present. All the while, God longs for us to let Him rise up and show us His compassion (Isaiah 30:18). The question is where we will place our focus – on growing with God or groaning about our circumstances.
When we choose to set our eyes on God, we begin transforming and growing into the best of version of ourselves, the version God intended. We begin living our lives differently. Many of the things we once thought were so important seem to fade away. As Paul wrote to the church in Philippi: “Those things were important to me, but now I think they are worth nothing because of Christ.” (Philippians 3:7)
Another thing happens when we choose to focus on God rather than simply complaining about our life: we begin embracing the things we’re truly grateful for and share that gratitude with those around us. As David proclaims in Psalm 9:1, “I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.”
Take Steps Every Day
Regardless of your situation, you can choose to grow with God. Every day. Yes, it might seem easier said than done, but those things most worth having are rarely easy. If they were, everyone would have them in abundance.
So, ask yourself – are you growing in your life? Is your view of God based on a “little g” or a “big G”? What steps can we take every day to ensure we are focusing on God’s will for our lives and not our own? How do we stop groaning and start growing?
Every path is different, but I can tell what has helped me:
- Set aside quiet time with God and protect it. Be still and know that God is who He says He is. (Psalm 46:10)
- Read God’s word and study the meaning of scripture. It will come alive to you in ways you might never have imagined. (2 Timothy 3:16)
- Pray in expectation, asking God for guidance. (James 1:5)
- Wait and listen for God’s voice. (Isaiah 40:31)
God is waiting for us to choose Him. Embrace a larger view of God and experience the transformation His grace can bring you!
May God always guide your path.