“Unless you suffer the pain
of spiritual discipline
you will suffer the pain
of spiritual defeat.”

– Ian Gardner

She walks her son down the long hospital hallway. People scurry about and take no notice of the suffering mother and child. Mattie holds firmly to his mom; in part to keep his balance, but mostly he wants to feel her warm hands in his own. “I’m tired mom. Please, I want to sit down;” but she does not let her son stop. He has to keep walking. He must exercise his limbs or his body will not heal. Only two days earlier Mattie was burned when a pot of boiling water was knocked from the stove; severely injuring his arm and leg. Pain now fills Mattie’s three-year-old body, but his mother’s love must force her son to walk. It takes every ounce of strength to resist the urge to pick up her son, to hold him, to comfort him, and to let him sit in his little red wagon. If Mattie is to recover from his burns, love must conquer compassion. Holding back her tears, a mother’s love must force her son to experience suffering. For Mattie, healing is on the other side of pain.

Where are you along life’s path? Do you hurt? Does no one stop to notice your pain? In the darkest moments, you cry out to your god, “Where are you now! If you are real… if you are really loving… Where are you now when I need you the most!” Anger is a constant companion. Sorrow seems like the only escape from depression.

Only when your “god” becomes Father will you understand. Only when you experience a love that forces you to walk will you know rest. You must pass through the agony before the ultimate healing comes. Step after painful step; hold firm to the warm hand of the Father and know true love that conquers compassion.

This post is featured in my book, “More Than Cake” as one of the 52 team devotionals that take on issues of church, culture, and theology in a way that will engage your team in a full-orbed discussion of missional community. Get copies today for every member of your team!

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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