Living with discomfort is…well, uncomfortable. People often take great steps to avoid it. We step out of awkward situations, avoid difficult conversations, and bow out of tough social events. Parents do their best to keep their children from experiencing hurt, disappointment, and the sting of failure. Coworkers cover for each other. Friends hide grievances behind sad smiles.

But in all of this, we’re only maintaining the status quo. We are not experiencing or encouraging the painful tearing that comes before the muscle grows.

In hiding from pain and discomfort, we rob ourselves and/or others of the chance to become stronger.

Character is built by learning to grow graciously under pressure. Two of the most valuable ornamentations in this world—pearls and diamonds—cannot come to be without two distinct things: grit (pearls) and pressure (diamonds).  Certainly, imitations of these priceless things can be made…but they prove easily-scuffed and far less durable than the pearl or diamond that has gone through the grit or pressure to be fully formed.

People are not so different. In order to shine, in order to adorn the Body of Christ with our valuable glow, we are often not hidden from grit and pressure. We must go through them. Like the refiner’s fire, these seasons of heat and discomfort birth stronger, sterner stuff within us. What is never taxed never grows stronger—and what isn’t strong will break. You don’t get a diamond, one of the most durable things in the world, without the object it was before first undergoing a lot of pressure!

But subject something to the wrong kind of pressure and it breaks anyway.

This is why God’s brand of discipline—both how He disciplines us and the discipline by which He instructs us to live our lives—is so important. It’s the right kind of pressure that ensures we neither crack under the strain nor remain too soft to endure.

So when trying times come—as they will—rather than seeing them as waves to ride out or inconveniences to endure, seek diligently how you can grow from them. How this can be your refiner’s fire, how this crucible can make you stronger. Look for how the grit and pressure can help shape you to shine for the Lord.