We all want to grow spiritually. Some think we grow best through adversity. However, Romans 10:17 says that true faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. So what role, if any, do problems play in ojour maturing as believers, and where should we focus our attention for spiritual growth?
The Bible says in James 1:13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” Contrary to popular thought, trouble is not one of the main ways God helps us grow spiritually. In fact, according to Scripture, evil is a tool of Satan, not a tool of the Lord. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
The Lord desires that we live an abundant life, and the two primary things He has given us for our spiritual growth are His Word and His Holy Spirit (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and John 16:13). Our faith can develop amidst the pressures and circumstances of life, but in the absence of God’s Word and His Spirit, those circumstances will destroy us rather than build us up. That is exactly what Satan desires when he launches an attack.
Jesus gave an example in Luke 6:49 of a house that was not founded on a rock when the flood arose. The stream beat violently on the house and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of it was great. The house that was built on a solid rock did not shake when the flood came because the man dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock—the Word (verse 48). We see from this parable that during the storms of life, it is often too late to lay a deep foundation. However, when we build our foundation on the rock of God’s Word before the storm arrives, we can overcome in any situation!
Without a dependence on God’s Word and a relationship with the Holy Spirit, life’s circumstances will only serve to destroy us instead of helping us develop. In the end, if any growth occurs in the midst of adversity it will have been God’s Word and His Spirit (not the struggle) that brought about the growth that led to greater maturity. Therefore, our focus should be on developing faith in God’s Word by the Holy Spirit. This type of living always produces growth—with or without adversity!