growing pains

Aug 23, 2020

How rich are the depths of God –
how deep his wisdom and knowledge –
and how impossible to penetrate his motives
or understand his methods!
Who could ever know the mind of the Lord?

The one who seeks relationship with God is in for an adventure.

Most people would say that their daily life offered them enough challenge, and they look to religion to provide some respite from life’s exhausting routines and demands.

The Old Testament book of Sirach reminds us: “If you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal,” and no doubt the people of the Old Testament looked forward to the birth of a Messiah to end their ordeal and bring an era of rest.

But the life of Jesus Christ on earth was hardly a comfortable existence. Instead Jesus was misunderstood, denied, betrayed and put to death as a criminal. And we Christians professing to be followers of Jesus can expect the same kind of adventure.

This is not a pessimistic proposal since we follow Jesus not only to the cross but through the cross to resurrection.

Pope Benedict reminds us:  “The world promises you comfort but you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.”

There’s something inside every healthy person that appreciates this.

While restful moments and sabbath vacations are necessary, we know that we are made for much more, and even when we create our own goals and tackle and achieve them, we are still left feeling restless knowing that there must be more to life.

This adventure of life is not something we have to seek out, but instead it’s provided for us through the experiences and encounters of daily life.  This is unexpected for us and often unwelcome since we would rather choose our own challenges and pick our adventures.

Instead the ultimate adventure for a human is to live fully in every situation and every circumstance that appears for us. In this adventure, lived in relationship with Jesus Christ who is God-with-us, we find our home on earth.

The one who embraces this journey soon discovers that the pathway provided is more personally tailored to us than any life we might manufacture for ourselves.

This is because our plans and will for ourselves is usually more of a reflection of what society sees as important than what God has created us for.  “All of us are born as originals, but many of us die as photocopies.” Carlo Acutis

The real adventure of life is a process of maturation that begins with our decision to accept that the wisdom and knowledge of God, the mind of God for me, is also my deepest desire for myself.

From this perspective the sufferings I experience in life (for whatever reason and from whatever cause), are simply growing pains since all real and lasting growth involves pain.

And our greatest human desire is not to avoid suffering but to embrace everything that leads us to be fully ourselves according not to our own plan and mind, but in harmony with the motives and methods of God.

An Invitation:

  • Become aware of the suffering that is a part of your life at the moment. Certainly it is unwanted and probably undeserved. Now, instead of focussing on your pain and those who might have caused it, turn to Jesus asking him to give you the gift of forgiveness of others so that you can move ahead to greater maturity and freedom.
  • Click this image below for a simple morning and evening reflection. It might be ideal on waking in the morning before getting out of bed, or last thing at night after turning out the light.


  • Email with your initials to join those taking these few days as a simple retreat-in-daily-life, and to invite others to keep you in prayer. Click the image to enlarge.


  1. Thank you for a really edible reflection this morning Fr John should have me tasting God for most of the day I think……

  2. To rename “suffering” as “growing pains” is truly a gift. It expands limited vision, especially our understandings of carrying a cross. Jesus is with us through to resurrection and beyond

  3. Loved today’s column. Sooooo valid on these days. Absolutely loved it!

  4. Amen

  5. Thanks Fr John,
    ‘Suffering ‘ is ‘growing pains’ will be added to the list of read aloud scriptures that I try to do daily.

    • Dear John, I was very moved by the depths and thoughtfulness of this reflection. It is particularly relevant not only to myself, but I thought of so many of our faithful elderly, suffering the massive changes in our Churches at this moment and of those in numerous rest homes, hospitals and quarantine facilities enduring the impact of Level 4 lockdown. It is a tumultuous time in our history with far reaching evolutionary consequences. It is good to be confronted with the central truth of the gospel which proclaims the cruciform nature and ultimate purpose of our own suffering and that of all creation. Keep writing! With gratitude.

  6. This inspiring reflection at a “newer” insight moved me to respond with a desire that is heartwarming. Amen . Thank you Fr John

  7. Finally my regrets and pains explained. Thank you so much. Acceptance for what is rather regretting what may have been.

  8. Thank you Fr John. Acceptance for what is rather than regret for what could have been. And know they were growing pains. God has His reasons. Who can know the mind of God. “My thoughts are not your thoughts”…..

  9. Thank you. I am on an adventure and my my pains are just growing pains helping
    me know God more each day.

  10. Fr. John, thank you. This is so timely – the growing pains of the last fortnight are at the foot of the cross.

  11. I Love Earth being our
    Journey towards,’hopefully,
    The gift of the beautifull
    Earth,to do our journey on,
    Shows us what more beauty
    Is to come.May I Always”
    Continue to thank GOD,
    for the beauty of nature,
    Given in our journey
    God Bless, the
    Holy spirit,placed
    In you,FR JOHN


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