Two weeks ago, I was sitting in the pews of my home church in Melbourne and the lead pastor asked the congregation an interesting question.
“Who here thinks life is hard?” he asked.
I am surrounded by a majority age group of 18 – 30 years old. We are all young, but not immune to hardship.
As I raise my hand in response to the question, I look around the pews. Nearly every single hand is raised in agreement. I have no idea why, but I am actually mildly surprised.
Life is hard in all seasons
In every season of our lives, in every place imaginable on Earth, there is deep sorrow and conflict. From the crushing reality of losing people we love, to inconveniences like trying to make it somewhere on time, life is hard.
What’s more, we often want a better answer; we crave some sort of an explanation. And if you are anything like me, we then try and come up with answers ourselves that are often bad and leave us in even more pain.
In an attempt to find deeper meaning in our hardships, here are four reasons why life is hard:
1. Life is hard because the world is hurting
The Christian story begins with a good Creator creating everything. Creation then rejects its Creator, which results in the transformation of the entirety of creation (Genesis chapter 3 verses 14 to 19). As a result, nothing is as it should be and sometimes life couldn’t be more difficult.
We are all to blame for this reality. We need to acknowledge our role and our own sinfulness because we have rejected God and his goodness.
The good news is God’s plan of restoration includes us! God desires for us to join him in his plans to bring peace, unity and wholeness to a world that so desperately needs it.
Jesus died for a hurting world to bring a holistic renewal which will be completed when he comes again.
2. Life is hard because of you, and the person next to you
Sometimes life is hard, because we are sinful people. We make bad decisions – purposefully and accidently – and these choices make our lives a lot harder. In this situation, it’s important that we don’t say, “This is just who I am.” No, we must confess our sins and repent, and there, on the other side, we’ll will find grace, true forgiveness, and redemption in Christ (Corinthians chapter 1, verses 30 to 31).
Life is hard because of you and me, but in his perfect grace Jesus forgives us when we have hurt him and made our own life harder.
3. Life is hard because of ‘that’ person
Sometimes life is hard, not because the world is hurting, but because someone else hurt you.
This is the story of Job (Job chapter 2, verse 7). This is the story of the man left for dead in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke chapter 10, verse 25). This is the story of Jesus (Luke chapter 23, verse 34).
Jesus responds by willingly becoming a victim for the sake of humanity, by bearing the sins of the entire human race. Therefore, when we are treated unjustly, we should remember that Jesus identifies with us in our hurting.
But Jesus goes one step further; he cleanses and washes us clean when others wage war against us.
4. Life is hard because God is good
Many of life’s difficulties are by design.
In his kindness, God has intentionally created the world in such a way that it requires effort to accomplish significant change, progress and reward.
From the very beginning, Adam worked and cultivated the ground to shape creation (Genesis chapter 2, verse 5). In other words, work existed from the very beginning.
When embraced as a good gift, work that is hard essentially glorifies our good heavenly father and can make us more efficient, collaborative, skilled, and so on. In fact, great joy can be found in this aspect of hardship because it matures us (James chapter 1, verses 2 to 4).
But we should never pray away the difficulty because it makes us more ‘mature,’ instead we should embrace it, discern its purpose, give it to Jesus, and then pray to be made more like him through it.
Life is hard, but God is greater
Life is hard for many reasons, but through our sorrow we are being made into the image of our good God.
So, my prayer for the generation coming after us is that they won’t have to prophesy or ‘declare’ that he is good over their present or future, but they will stand firm and believe they were born in knowing he is good.
My hope is that they won’t have to constantly be returning to this quandary, because we returned to answer it for them, so that they can walk in confidence saying, “If it’s not good, it’s not the end!”
Let the knowledge that God is good be a holy beauty in the midst of your sorrow. Then believe that He made you good also.
Emily Black is passionate about writing and seeks to write raw, authentic, and timely pieces that disturb and comfort, engage justice and fundamentally empower. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne and actively desires to pursue a life of untainted freedom through Jesus Christ.
Emily Black’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/emily-black.html