But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me~ 2nd Corinthians 12:9
I hate doing hard things.
Seriously. I just do.
If I have an option between something easy and hard I’m picking the easy route. Every. Single. Time. I don’t think I’m weird in that way. Most humans hate hard things. The spiritual explanation for this phenomenon is simple: we are both fallen and we were created to live in a world with far fewer problems and stress (Genesis 2:4-24). Our fallenesss makes it difficult to care about the benefits of anything that isn’t easy and our souls long for what we were made for. On a personal note: it doesn’t help that I am a spoiled first world-er who is just accustomed to easy.
All that being said, the older I get the more I see the benefit of not always taking the easy path. There are all sorts of really good reasons why hard things shouldn’t be shunned (Galatians 6:9).
We can’t escape hard things in a fallen world-
Hardness in life is never an accident of fate, nor is it always a result of sinful choices. Hardness in this world came about as a result of sin (Genesis 3:14-19). Until sin is dealt with once and for all (Revelation 19-21) hard things will simply be an integral part of life in this world. The whole messy mess is complicated by the reality that Christians have an enemy (1st Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:11) who has a vested in interest in making life harder for God’s people (more on this in point 4). Because hard things are inevitable in this life it just makes sense to lean into the hard rather than to try and fight them.
Doing hard things prepares us for harder things-
I am currently reading through the book of Exodus. In chapter five God sends Moses to Pharaoh for the first time. Moses tells Pharaoh that God wants Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go so they can worship their God. Pharaoh did not react the way Moses hoped he would. He laughed at Moses and cruelly increased the workload of the Hebrew people. The very people Moses was trying to help turned around and laid the blame for the whole messy muddle squarely at the feet of Moses. By the end of the chapter Moses was clearly bummed-out and was what the heck-ing God. He says:
“Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” Exodus 5:22-23
Because I have the advantage of knowing how the story ends, I was struck by the thought that if Moses had realized at that moment that he was actually doing the easiest leadership task he was ever going to have to do he probably would have laid down on the floor and cried like a tired child. Moses didn’t know it yet, but the mission in front of him was going to be hard in ways he could not even begin to imagine. Before the whole thing was over Moses would be an expert in how to deal with both difficult people, intense disappointment and intensely disappointed difficult people. Mercifully, God did not tell Moses exactly how tough things would eventually get. Instead God just used the hard thing (dealing with Pharaoh) to prepare Moses for the harder thing (leading the people through the wilderness). God does the same thing with us. He gives us hard things to prepare us for harder things that will have a bigger impact on this world (see point four).
God has a special place in His heart for people who do hard things-
The Christians in Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) did the hardest things Christians are ever called to do. They suffered and some even died for their belief in Jesus. God had nothing but positive things to say about them and the sacrifices they willingly made. In the text God tells the Christians in Smyrna that He understands their pain and difficulty and then praises them for standing strong in the face of intense adversity. He gently and lovingly encouraged them to continue to stand strong and be courageous as they waited for the relief that would come in time. Throughout the Scriptures God exhibits a heart of compassion for those experiencing hard things. God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
The hardest things in life have the biggest potential to impact eternity in some way. Seriously. It’s just true.Things like sharing our faith, living honorably, speaking hard truths in a gentle way, raising decent kids, having a healthy marriage, going the distance in ministry and laying down our lives for others are hard things. They suck-up our energy, eat away at our free time, cost us money and try our patience. Sometimes those things feel like they will break us. However, hard things also grow our faith, give us wisdom, make us better people and have the potential to change someone else’s eternity. Changing eternity for others is the very best thing and worth all the trouble that comes with it (Matthew 25:21, 1st Corinthians 3:7-9, Ephesians 6:8, Colossians 3:24).
Every. Single. Time.