One helpful thing I’ve observed about growing in a real relationship with God in the last few years is this– well, maybe it’s two things:
First: Take it all personally. Every single detail, the timing of every single detail, every pressure (and don’t they seem to come in clusters?), every annoyance, every joy, everyeveryevery. It’s all God’s desire to communicate Himself to us. They all work together for good, to make us like Christ.
Second: Take other people’s sin towards you as from God– not as if God did the sin, but in the sense that He allowed exactly it in order for you to get to know Him more. Forgiving people, over and over, learning to love them … it can be terribly painful (and I’m not at. all. talking about remaining in abusive situations), but it’s exactly how we understand and experience Christ. For example, there are one or two people in my church who drive me nuts, and whose sin has really hurt me personally. But I’ve learned more about Christ through those relationships than I’ve learned from all the people I get along with comblned.
(Exception: Not all learning is painful! I really enjoy learning about God and experiencing Him through Vitaliy. He teaches me so much about God and growth, and it’s usually nice– over coffee and/or on our long drives.)
Bonus: Those things above, plus truer friendship with God, can only really be accepted by us if we agree with God’s goal for us, which is to make us like Jesus, not to make us comfortable.
And thank you, dear God, for your Comforter in the discomfort.
AND! Long-term, there is a neat type of comfort in having lived a righteous life. The hard is so worth it.