Suffering the growing pains of adversity

Published 8:24 pm Thursday, November 12, 2015

By Tonya S. Swindell

Occasionally my 7-year-old son experiences “growing pains” or leg discomfort that doesn’t seem to go away until he drinks water for hydration or he eats a banana for extra potassium. My son’s pain lets me know he will be a tall man one day.

From my own experience, physical and emotional pain can also lead to spiritual growth. So it encourages me to see examples in everyday life, nature and from the Bible that show how great difficulty can lead to significant growth.

Email newsletter signup

A bodybuilder grows stronger when he or she uses muscles to lift, pull or push heavy loads on a consistent basis. A butterfly must push and break through a hard protective covering before its wings can expand and fly. When I see a plant, it encourages me, because I know it started as a single seed that fell to the ground and died before producing a plentiful harvest.

Jesus described a lost son who grew stronger and more mature only after losing his inheritance and becoming so hungry that corncobs in a pigpen looked good enough for him to eat. The son realized he was accepted after his daddy greeted him with a kiss and put a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet and food in his stomach to show he was glad for his son’s safe return.

Although I don’t feel stronger immediately after difficult situations, I eventually grow in wisdom, maturity and favor with God and other people.

Hebrews 5:8 says, “Even though Jesus was God’s son, He learned obedience from the things he suffered.”

Jesus’ disciples also experienced difficulty, which taught them to trust and obey God. They became frantic as wind and waves filled their sinking ship. But they grew in faith after Jesus said, “Peace, be still,” and made “even the winds and waves obey Him” (Mark 4: 37-41).

After watching the film “Unbroken,” my 10-year-old son said, “A little pain can make you great.” The movie is based on a true story about Louis Zamperini, who grew in grace and faith while experiencing extreme difficulty and pain. His tenacity and forgiveness proved a person can endure painful situations without feeling defeated or bitter toward others.

According to Romans 5: 3-5, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.”

As I grow I can go through various trials and tribulations.

With my hand in God’s hand, I will endure strong temptations.

As I trust in His love, I become stronger by the minute.

To overcome adversity and gain wisdom while I’m in it.

Tonya Swindell writes a blog for and a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School ( She can be reached at