Through the last number of years I have been learning the art of pressing on through adversity. I really shouldn’t call it “art” because so often it has been a teeth grinding, hand over hand, pressing onward that has looked far from inspiring. Most times it has been simply putting one foot in front of the other and walking forward when everything within me wanted to quit.
Nearly 2 years ago I was told I was dying. That is a story for a whole different post…or book. Needless to say it was shocking. I knew I was sick, even really sick, but I did not feel like I was dying. The truth is life in my world physically had been hard for a number of years. Unexplained illnesses and surgeries and pain have always been my world. Never easy but in a weird way, normal. In the pushing and the walking and even the crawling I’ve come to learn a few things about journeying through the difficult.
I think many of us have believed the lie that tells us the hard stuff is all about getting through it. We long and even ache for the other side where life isn’t so tough, where the journey doesn’t hurt quite so much. The reality is life was never meant to be easy. Living in a fallen sinful world means that the majority of the time life will be hard. And there is beauty in that. 1 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
What we do with the hard is entirely up to us. I could ask the cliché question, “will you allow it to make you or break you?”. What will you do with the hard? It’s easy to stop, turn, even give up. As Christians we’re especially good at doing those things while wrapping our excuses in good “Christian language”. “We feel called a different way”. “I’m just needing a break right now”. “The Lord is calling me elsewhere”. We wrap it neatly in a bow and feel good. And yet I wonder, I wonder if we don’t most often take the easy way out?
What if we began to walk through the hard. What if we grabbed on and didn’t let go. What if we didn’t stop when it got hard? What if we began to journey for the journey, not just with the outcome in sight? What if?
What if we looked different than this world and walked forward with grace and authenticity? Admitting it’s not easy and still going forwards speaks loudly in our world. What if?
What if we looked different than the typical Christian and loved out loud in the midst of the hard. What if we, instead of shaking our fist at God and drawing inward, turned and gave him praise because he is good? What if?
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Your journey may not mirror my own but that doesn’t make it any more or less hard. You may need to walk through heart ache, job struggles, personal hidden issues, ministry, marriage, etc. Your journey is valid and you never walk through it alone. As you push forward, on the days when you want to give up may you hear the whisper of the One who created you saying, “I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.” Isaiah 41:9. Keep going.