Well, we’re at number five. We’ve gone through the first four and we’ve arrived at number 5, and maybe the most important one to understand, and that is God never promised that your life would be easy.
Again, there are those who promise that if you will comply to their list of best practices, things would be easy for you. As a matter of fact, some people use the Bible to prove that, out of the teaching of Genesis when Adam and Eve fell that the difficulty of life became part and parcel of their fall and the redemption that Christ achieved on the Cross corrected that little bit of human misery. But does it, and did it? Is that your experience?
Here’s what I’ve found. Nothing of significance is easy. My marriage isn’t easy. It’s difficult. Paula and I are two messed up people. To find a way to love each other beyond our own damaged and wounded emotions is hard.
I have three beautiful daughters; grown, mature, human beings that I love and respect. But raising them wasn’t easy. Dealing with their ups and downs and transitions wasn’t easy. Working to provide for my family wasn’t easy.
As a leader, putting up with the criticism and betrayal of those that I’ve given my heart to hasn’t been easy. Nothing is easy. It doesn’t matter whether God is in the equation or not.
Here’s where the real difference is. Without God life is hard. It is painful and difficult. As a matter of fact that is the objection that a lot of people give. How can there be a God and life be so difficult and painful? Why do young children die? Why do bad things happen to good people? And the response is this. If you can’t live with God in a world of pain, you’ll live in a world of pain without God. It’s not an option.
So here is what God has promised; not that life would be easy, but that it would be worth it. And that makes all the difference in the world. My marriage has sustained me. And the pain and the difficulty of staying committed to my original promise and keeping my heart turned toward Paula alone has been more than worth it.
Yes, I could have saved some money and aggravation, and having to buy a mini-van (how embarrassing) by not having kids. But then I would not have these three amazing adults in my life right now who I look up to, and who inspire me. And they’re my kids! They’ve been difficult, but more than worth it.
College was difficult; more than worth it. Seminary was difficult; more than worth it. Graduate school was difficult; more than worth it. Starting a church from scratch was difficult; more than worth it. Everything that you will cherish, everything that will last, all that will endure come at a price. But remember this: all people pay the price. Some pay a heavier price than others. God promises that if we trust Him with all of our heart, mind, and soul, and show up one day at a time, we’ll get through it and we’ll look back, and we’ll have in our lives those things of incomparable value and worth: the hard things that were more than worth it.
And remember this: there is no shortcut to anyplace worth going.