Since I have been writing this blog in earnest over the last year, I have chronicled the amazing times, the heartbreaking times, and the really hard times.
This past year has presented some of the richest and most profound times with God I have ever experienced. But as soon as I experience a spiritual high, the next week will bring devastating news about my Dad’s battle with Cancer. An enriching breakthrough spiritually might be happening in the midst of the most difficult moments of my professional life. There is joy and pain often mixed in the same day, sometimes the same hour.
I began to ask myself, are the times of great spiritual growth preparing me for the struggles and the obstacles or are the obstacles and struggles providing the framework for the times of significant growth? Does the crucible of change and improvement with God have to be struggle, hurt, and difficulty? Or was the growth already there and I just needed the difficulty to demonstrate and contextualize the growth?
I guess what I am trying to say is that I am thankful for the difficulties while at the same time wishing and praying that they would go away. I know that good will come out of struggle while often trying to avoid it.
Jesus himself asked that the cup he had to bear would pass from him but then prayed that if that couldn’t happen, may God’s will be done. I feel that I understand this sentiment on the tiniest of levels and I am starting to see that God’s will is the best place for me to be.
Just don’t make it too hard, Lord.
Have you noticed that in spite of countless listicles and click bait slide shows that give you “Five Tips To The Perfect You” or “This One Thing Will Change Your Life Forever and Its Jaw Dropping,” we are more attracted to difficult achievements than cheap shortcuts that have no substance?
How else can you explain the rise in participation in marathons, Tough Mudders, and Spartan Races? Why are CrossFit and Fitness Bootcamps so popular and P90X before them?
Conventional wisdom would say that no 21st century person would be tough enough to commit to these things despite the positive results. Could it be that the we actually prefer a challenge over short cuts?
American churches have tried for the last 30 years or so to make the Christian life seem easy. Either by reduction of the message or making the hard parts seem unnessary, the idea was that if we portrayed the Christian life as difficult then no one would try it.
It was Chesterton who said, ““The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” But it is that difficulty that you really need. You want to feel as if you are really committing to something that is rich, deep, hard, life changing, and worth it.
A product that is given away or comes cheap seems disposable or lacking but something that you pay a large sum seems worth it because you worked hard to pay for it.
The Christian Life isn’t hard for hard sake but it is hard because nothing else in life is worth more than life transformation and growth. To discipline and die to self and see what Christ can do with our humble efforts has so many more benefits than taking the easier path.
Do the work and see what Christ does with it.
photo credit: DVIDSHUB