As we press on in the Christian life, as we advance from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity, we find joyfulness increasing even when our comforts are decreasing. We find ourselves cheerful in trials, content in persecution, submissive even when we meet with sore disappointment. Things that may have seriously disturbed us in former days are powerless to derail or severely distress us in our later days.
Infants are easily discontented. They cry when hungry, they cry when tired, they cry when uncomfortable, they cry when afraid. It often seems they cry for no reason at all! Toddlers are perhaps a little better, but they are still quick to fuss and complain, still quick to express every little sorrow and every minor dissatisfaction. It is only age and maturity that eventually allows children to endure discomfort without whining, tantrums, and hysterics.
If all of this wasn’t bad enough, children also fuss and protest when their parents correct their behavior—even behavior that might harm or kill them. Many a child has screamed and protested when their parents have scooped them into their arms just before they toddled into traffic or plunged into a pool. The Bible simply states what’s patently obvious when it insists “folly is bound up in the heart of a child.”
It’s not for nothing that the Bible describes Christians as children. We enter the Christian life as spiritual infants who act the part. We are immature and unformed. Like children, we are quick to grumble when we encounter difficult circumstances, quick to murmur when providence fails to grant what we desire. We may not quite demand that we be carried to heaven on Isaac Watt’s “flowery beds of ease,” but we may still gripe and moan when called to face a foe, to bear a cross, or to endure a thorn.
But time brings maturity. This maturity comes about in a few different ways.