Life is challenging. No matter the circumstances of your upbringing, no one escapes the challenges – though they may differ depending on our race, economic situation, family make-up, location, etc. The interesting thing is that when a person goes through such difficult times, they often feel as if they are the only person in the world who is struggling. They know intellectually that is not the case, but it’s just what it feels like. I imagine you’ve been there at some point – maybe you’re there today.
I cannot explain all the reasons for your difficulties. Some, of course, are due to your direct actions or inactions. I have a numb spot on my left index finger because I was careless with a knife. I don’t blame the knife and I don’t blame Bill for lending me the knife. I did that and I got the consequences.
Sometimes the hard times that come your way are not your fault but the fault of others. Some of you had hard times growing up. Perhaps you had an abusive parent or maybe an absent parent. You may have been bullied or harassed. Some of you are having a hard time right now. You may have a horrible marriage. You might be estranged from a parent. Perhaps you were laid off from your job. The list can be endless, and your list will be uniquely yours in its specifics.
Life can also be hard because we live in a fallen world. Ever since Adam and Eve chose to do things their way instead of God’s way, things have been really messed up. Bad things happen. Airplane parts fail. Hurricanes ravage coastal cities. Wildfires consume whole neighborhoods. This list, too, can be a very long one.
Life can be tough. There is no doubt about it. What do you need to remember when life is hard?
First, you’re not alone. We all struggle. Your circumstances are unique to you, but suffering is common to all of us.
Second, God cares. You may not feel as if God cares, but He does. He loves you even if He doesn’t always rescue you. Yeah, it’d be great if He bailed us out whenever we got in trouble, but He doesn’t operate that way… and after 25 years of ministry, I cannot claim to understand it all but I have learned to trust Him.
Third, God is going to work it all out in the end. We focus on the day-to-day, moment-to-moment stuff. God sees the big picture. Sometimes what we endure actually is for our good. We often only see the hand of God in the rearview mirror. Sometimes we can’t see any possible good, but I’ve read Revelation and I know God is going to make it all right one day!
Fourth, God has provided resources for you. He gives you strength when you’re weak. He gives you joy when there’s little in which to rejoice. But perhaps the greatest resource that God provides to you is a supportive, encouraging church family. When things are going along pretty well for your life, you may not see the need for connecting with a local church… but things don’t always go well. It’s when you struggle that you long for a group of people who will love you, support you, and stand with you. Let me encourage you to get connected with a local church, really connected. Be there for people in their struggles, and they will be there for you when you struggle.
Fifth, life is hard, but you can make it harder. Think about the things you say and do; they matter. The more stupid things you do, the harder you make life for yourself and for people around you. Your life choices have repercussions. Yes, it’s true that you can make good choices and bad things still happen, but that is not the typical process.
May the Lord strengthen you in your weakness, comfort you in the pains, guide you in your confusion, and bless you in order to make you a blessing to others.