Spiritual growth is not easy. It requires more than reading books, singing songs, listening to sermons, and giving a few dollars. For spiritual growth to happen we have to follow Jesus, and we do that by applying God's Word to our lives.
Since this is the path of spiritual growth Satan, our great enemy, will throw many different obstacles along the way in hopes of tripping us up. He throws out fear, and we hold ourselves back from going into the unknown with Jesus. Satan sits the trap of temptation and we miss out of the experiences God has planned for us as we pursue the pleasures of sin. He digs the hole of guilt and we fall in overwhelmed with the evil we have committed and forgetting to rely on God's grace and forgiveness.
The good news is that God even uses Satan's obstacles as opportunities to make us better people. Just as Joseph told his brothers; "As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil" (Genesis 50:20; NLT), we can recognize the good that can come out of our failures. God is so powerful that He can even turn evil into good!
If we are going to become productive citizens of God's Kingdom it is going to require us to apply what we have heard. God's Word does us no good if all we are going to do is listen to what it says. Ultimately we have to start showing it out in our lives. What many of us Christ Followers need is not another book to read or class to attend, but to simply do the good we have already been taught. Spiritual maturity is the process that happens as we begin to live by faith, regardless of the consequences.
Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. ~ James 1:2-4; NLT
James says that we should approach trials with joy, because we know God can use them to produce in us the character He desires. Because God loves us He will not waste our painful experiences, our failures, or our troubles. He will use them to make us stronger, and in many cases, He will use them for the benefit of others as well.
When trials, troubles, and failures come our way shouldn't get discouraged and wonder where God is. Rather we should respond with trust knowing that through even the most horrible of circumstances God can bring about His will and create us to be a little more like Jesus.