The Beautiful Misery of Multiplication

Have you ever noticed that the areas where we experience the most joy are often the areas where we also experience the most pain? This is certainly true with the bigger things in life, like graduating a child out of the house, or going through the difficulty of a medical procedure that will enable greater mobility and freedom. This is also true of the smaller things in life, like the pain that comes from a workout, or saying no to that piece of chocolate cake that you desperately want to eat. Pain is often the gateway to the greatest pleasures in life. It’s important to note that, this is not just happenstance, but is actually a part of God’s design. Scripture talks often about how we were meant to experience joy through suffering.

As I have been contemplating this, I had a bit of an epiphany at my gospel community last week. The conversation really stemmed from something that I said in a sermon recently. As I was unpacking Psalm 117, and discussing the meaning of our praise, I said that praise is really to be understood as the spilling out of enjoyment. As we enjoy the Lord, and find greater delight in Him, we feel compelled to say something about it. The same way that you tell people about wonderfully enjoyable experiences that you have, we are compelled to tell people about how great God is. As we were discussing this in our gospel community, I was reminded of how much the Bible has to say about experiencing joy in suffering. Not only that, but we are called to give God praise in the midst of our suffering. I think we see this best exemplified in the life of Job who, after suffering unimaginable circumstances, blesses the name of the Lord.

And this is where it clicked for me. In chapter 4 of his first letter, Peter tells us that, when we suffer for the name of Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord rests upon us in a unique way. In other words, we are granted a unique intimacy with God in the midst of our trials. Think about this for a moment. If praise is the spilling out of enjoyment of God, and if enjoyment of God comes when we are with Him, then doesn’t it make sense that our suffering would lead to greater praise in our lives? We must remember that the goal in life is not to be comfortable. If that is your goal, you will actually make yourself miserable. The goal is to be with God and enjoy His presence. If difficulty allows us to experience more of His presence, isn’t that something that we should embrace as God brings it? I think so!

We see this displayed perfectly through the Lord Jesus as He went to the cross as our substitute. The author of Hebrews encourages us to “look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) In other words, Jesus willingly walked through the pain and suffering that He endured because of joy. He experienced great joy in bringing about redemption, and He makes a way for us to experience that same joy for all of eternity.

So the question is, “What does all of this have to do with multiplication?” And the answer is quite simple. Multiplication that comes from the gospel growing and bearing fruit is a wonderful thing for us to experience. Seeing God build His church and expand His Kingdom on earth is awe-inspiring and is cause for great celebration. And that is happening right now at Heartland in big and small ways. We see the gospel growing and bearing fruit in individual hearts, families, gospel communities, and in our church as a whole. But multiplication also represents great difficulty for us. Because of our great love for one another, and because of the depth of relationships that we value, it can make sending out (or being sent out) very difficult. In fact, multiplication can feel like heartache (misery) at times.

But this is a part of the pain that God uses to do an even deeper gospel work in and through us. Not only does God bring great beauty through multiplication, by advancing the gospel to new areas, but God does a simultaneous work to grow us in intimacy with Him. Remember, as we experience the pain and choose to sacrifice for Kingdom advancement, the Spirit of God rests upon us in a unique way. There is joy in the pain of multiplication because we find God there. This has been very helpful in allowing me to resolve some of the tension in my heart as Heartland grows so rapidly. As I lament not being able to do life as closely with certain groups of people, I am also heartened by the new work of gospel advance that God is doing in the lives of others. In this way, multiplication makes room for the gospel to grow and bear fruit all the more.

As we continue to grow, God will give us increasing opportunities to trust Him and embrace the beautiful misery of multiplication. There is joy set before us in the pain of multiplication — great joy! Our response must always be to look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. We keep our eyes fixed on Him and enjoy His presence in our lives. This causes us to abound in joy. Be encouraged Heartland. God is doing a great thing in and through us, and more lies before us still. It is a privilege to be on this journey with you.

By His Grace,

Jeff Neville
Lead Pastor/Elder