Hard is a reality of simply being on planet earth. Every single day we have to deal with something that is hard. It might be something as simple as figuring out what to make for dinner, or it could be as devastating as hundreds of lives being lost in a hurricane.
Already, you are probably wondering how those two things even go together in the same sentence. But in the same way the word “love” has a multitude of meanings in the english language so does the word “hard.” We all experience hard in a hundred different ways. It’s never easy. But I recently realized I’ve been doing something that isn’t making it any easier.
I’ve been comparing my “hard.” I compare mine to those who have it worse and I feel a guilty sense of relief, or to those who have it easier and feel sorry for myself. Or even worse, I judge those who think theirs is hard, because for some reason I have the audacity to say it’s not?
Just a couple of weeks ago I read a friend’s post on Facebook, who was having a particularly hard day, but I only saw it through my grief-clouded lens, so I too quickly commented:
“Well, at least you weren’t in Haiti.” It was the day after Hurricane Matthew obliterated parts of Haiti, and the day before it was supposed to hit my hometown. Clicking refresh on the hurricane center’s webpage became an obsession. I was completely wrapped up in my own anxiety.
As soon as I hit enter I knew it was the wrong thing to say. Why did I come down on her so hard? Because I lost my compass. Grief, anxiety, adrenaline, and fear where clouding my judgement and instead of showing compassion to a hurting friend, I somehow deemed that my hurting was worse. It is incredibly easy to lose perspective in the eye of the storm. We all hurt. We all have disappointment. We all receive our share of grief. Just because ours looks different than someone else’s doesn’t mean it’s any less painful or more devastating. It’s all hard.
Look at James 1:2-4 with me:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing.”
We all experience various kinds of trials. Some trials may feel harder than others, but that doesn’t make the easier ones any less valuable. God uses ALL of it to test our faith, to see if we will count it all joy, and to produce a steadfastness in us that cannot be shaken. Faith is what we cling to as we hold our ground, knowing that God is the one doing the perfecting. God is the one that makes us complete. In Him we replace our fear with hope. In the end we will lack nothing at all, because God allowed hard things in our lives and character was formed. After all, we know that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28)
So, whether it is being stuck in an airport missing your daughter’s homecoming or sitting in a lobby wondering if you will have a house to return to, hard is not something to be compared. It is to be embraced as one more chance to get it right. To respond with joy while enduring the pain. To know that our character matters and our compassion makes a difference. To believe with all of our heart that in the end our hope is in God who has already overcome it all.
Romans 5: 3-4
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope.”
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”