“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”- Genesis 18:14
We live in a society that avoids pain and discomfort. If we are sick, we take medicine. If we are cold, we build a fire; and if we are warm, we turn up the A/C or find a body of water to cool off in. We might say, “No pain, no gain”; but our lives do not reflect that we really believe this. In our Christian circles, even, our prayers model a community that desires both comfort and ease. If someone is sick, we ask God to heal them. If we are hurting, we ask God to take the hurt away. It seems as if the uncomfortable makes us all, well, uncomfortable.
I certainly grew up exactly in this way. I thought hurt and hard and pain were to be avoided at all costs. There was even an anonymous time in elementary school that a dear friend of mine and myself rode in our mothers’ cars instead of on the bus for a school field trip- after all, the bus was hot, smelly, and slow. Uncomfortable.
“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life…”- Matthew 7:14
I have thought a lot about this concept of hard recently. As our adoption process has continued on, we have had a lot of people express concern for this upcoming family dynamic. It has been worded in many different ways, but the synopsis is the same: “Don’t you think that’s going to be really hard?”
My answer is always a resounding yes. Yes- it’s going to be extremely hard! Particularly those first six months, we will have three children developmentally completely dependent on us for all their needs. And- we know more than ever before that things come up and God’s plans look differently than ours and there are no guarantees that this child that is going to be a part of a family doesn’t have his own struggles. In fact, I would argue that whether or not he is a “typically developing” child, all human beings come with their share of abnormal and difficult. But- I don’t find anywhere in God’s Word that calls us to easy on this side of heaven. And- since when is easy the most satisfying way to live anyway? Since when does hard have to equal bad?
Think about some of the most fulfilling experiences or things in your life.
For me, I think about training and running in a half marathon. I remember quitting my job when I was the breadwinner for Hugh and I during medical school and traveling overseas to serve in a village in Asia for a month. I look back on gaining my Master’s in Social Work, getting married to Hugh, carrying and birthing and parenting Ally and Bailey Grace. Publishing a book. You see, none of these things were easy. In fact, all of them fall into the, “hardest things I have ever done” category. I would venture to say that yours would, too. But worth it? Oh, so worth it.
Friends, most of the things that matter in this life are not the things that just came to us. The things that satisfy the most are the ones that require sweat, blood, tears and a whole lot of faith. The things that please God are the ones that call us to cling to Him, confident that we cannot continue on without His help. One of the most beautiful things about the Gospel is the reality that God not only meets us in our brokenness; He calls us in our brokenness. I look at Moses- a man of poor speech and full of insecurity- yet called by God to command the people to turn from their wicked ways and serve Him. I see David- known as a murderer and adulterer (and let’s be honest, probably emotionally instable) by the world; yet known as a man after God’s own heart to God Himself. How about Abraham? He was called to a country that he did not know; asked to pick up his family and simply go. And- the Early Church- all persecuted and pressed and plotted against from every angle- except the One that mattered.
You see, the people of the faith that I admire and look to most are not the ones who have escaped difficulty altogether- quite the contrary actually. The people I am most affected by and encouraged by are the ones who, in the face of great difficulty, do not shrink back from hard but instead, look to the One whose strength is immeasurable and who knows no hard. If we want to people whose faith grows deeper, we are going to have to stop fearing the difficult and uncomfortable. If we desire to impact the world around us in the name of Jesus, we are going to have to do things that cause us to cry out, “Lord, if you do not show up here, I’m in big trouble”. From the outside world’s perspective, our journey with Ally and Bailey Grace might appear beyond challenging. Last night, Hugh had small group. In the short few hours that he was gone, Bailey Grace had a seizure that was longer than usual, Ally vomited all in her bed (and hair) for reasons unknown, and sleep took hours to actually come. From the outside looking in, this might sound miserable. But friends- may we not view inconvenient or difficult as unsatisfying. Instead, may we view it as an opportunity to live out the truths of Philippians 4 that promise peace beyond understanding.
There is peace like a river in my soul, and this- this is what I preach.
The truth is, it has taken many hard moments for the reality of the Gospel to fully settle in my spirit. It has taken quite literal blood, sweat, and tears (and a lot of vomit- so much vomit) for me to gain confidence in the fact that no matter what my circumstances or brokenness may look like- things are not as they appear. I know longer fear uncomfortable, for in all things- in plenty and in want- I find my comfort in Christ.
We are not called to an easy life on earth. We are called to be God’s hands, feet, and heart to a broken world. We are called to offer eternal healing in light of temporal hurting. And, if what we are really praying is, “Lord, make my life and the life of those I love on earth easy”- we are missing the point and we should not be surprised if His answer is, “My child, I love you way too much to do that”.
The hardest things that I have walked through have been the most fulfilling, which leads me to pray differently- not only for myself but for others as well. I know that ultimately, what I need-what you need- is not new circumstances. Ultimately, we need more intimacy and trust in our Creator. These days, I don’t become fearful thinking about the adoption. Whenever I am led to a daydream that causes me to think, “How will we do that?” I am comforted by the Lord as He says, “Don’t worry- I’ve got this”. In moments where both Ally and Bailey Grace are sick and I am alone with them and both needs appear urgent- I am not truly alone and He gives me wisdom and discernment to know what to do and when to do it.
Friends, may we not be a people who bring a long list of temporal requests to the throne room. May we long for greater and bigger and better things- things much greater than temporal physical healing or ease. May we, like Christ Himself, be able to say, “Thy will be done”- not out of obligation but out of assurance that His will is best. He who calls will equip. He who promises is faithful. He who created will sustain.
Grace upon Grace.
In all things. At all times. No matter what.
***Have you or someone you know tangibly walked through a trial that displayed God bringing beauty from ashes? It could be cancer, or singleness, or financial hardship, or a job change, or a move, or disability, or an accident, or depression- nothing is too small. I would love to do a series of blogs this summer that focuses on encouraging stories of people walking through things that the world would see as hard-aka bad- yet God making Himself known and magnifying His glory through it. Message me or email (firstname.lastname@example.org ) if you know someone or you yourself would be interested in writing a post on your story.***