There are two kinds of discomfort in life, and we have to pick one of them. The first is good and the second is bad.

The first kind of discomfort can feel downright horrible, but it indicates growth. It’s the sort of discomfort we get from beginning an exercise regimen or starting to eat well. The pain and lousy feelings are actually indications of health and a positive trajectory.

The second kind of discomfort provides a genuine warning that something needs to be fixed.

Remember that, according to the Bible, we should expect to suffer:

2 Timothy 2:2,3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 2:18 For because He himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.

Furthermore, some suffering is good because it conforms us to Christ:

2 Corinthians 1:6,7 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

1 Peter 4:1,2 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

Since we live in a fallen world, and we ourselves are fallen (Genesis 3), we cannot avoid discomfort. We can, however, choose which kind we experience. We pick the first kind of discomfort when we cling to God’s truth and act in accordance with it. This kind of discomfort leads to the abundant life found in Christ, which accrues to us gradually (John 8:31,32, 15:10,11; Philippians 4:11,12). This discomfort comes about because we are finite and frail, and our spiritual muscles, first taxed, are now growing.

We experience the second kind of discomfort when we are unwilling to accept the first kind. A false calm precedes this second kind of discomfort but eventually our thoughts and behaviors start to unravel. This is discomfort that we chose for the sake of short-term ease. Unfortunately, this type of discomfort breeds further pain and suffering, all of it unnecessary.

If growth in character and conviction were easy, everyone would have high character and firm conviction. That’s just not what we find in life, though. Spiritual growth, disciple making, and a life of worship all require a choice to walk into the fire rather than away from it.

So which type of discomfort will you choose today?

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