Why does everything have to be so hard?

There are times in every Christian life, when there seems to be hit after hit of trials, loss, struggle, sickness, even trauma.

We can either get beaten down, or we can lower ourselves down proactively. We can humble ourselves, before the onslaught takes us down. This is sometimes referred to as “the easy way” and “the hard way”.  I fully believe that God does not let anything touch us without His permission and approval. Getting angry, resisting, resenting, going on a sit down strike, we can react in so many bad ways. The whole purpose for God allowing the relentlessness, is because you and I have to be broken from our self-sufficiency. If you have ever asked God to change you, grow, you, teach you, just expect the trouble to come. If you never asked God to change you, well, you either haven’t figured out that you can’t change yourself, or you are content with staying in the shallow end of the pool faith pool.  But He won’t leave you there.

Just surrender!  It’s God. You’re not going to prevail.

If you think you have prevailed, just give it time. You’ll see.

You don’t have to like it. But it will go so much easier, and might even get resolved sooner, if you just say, ok, Lord, You know what You’re doing.

I believe anything that we are concerned about, God is concerned about to some degree, on our behalf. I pray about trivial things as well as consequential.  “Lord, I dropped another pin on the carpet, will You help me find it before anyone gets it stuck in their foot?”  Some people probably think that is near- blasphemy. But the word trivial just means commonplace, small, inconsequential or of little value. Value implies limits, and who decides the value of something, and what flavor of value are we talking about? There’s monetary value, sentimental value, value in usefulness of the item, historical value. God doesn’t have to pass over stuff that is trivial, because His mind, intellect, time, and resources are without limit.  We can’t “waste”  His time. Trivial is in the mind of the beholder. If between the bus and the front door, a little kindergartener loses a “prize” he won at school for getting the right answer, I and most parents would be out there in the street looking for it. It might be nothing but cheap plastic, even granting that next week, or in an hour, he may forget all about it and never think about it again.

Chances are, it’s not the prize that’s so special to him anyway, it’s really about the fact he won, and wants you to share his joy and accomplishment.

When we get to fretting, it’s not the problem that’s the problem. It’s that we are contemplating the problem without God in the equation. You can’t get the right answer using the wrong formula!

God is a dad. He does care what we feel, though within limits.  Not the snowflake safe place garbage, but what thoughts we entertain.

I, even as a human parent, might take the opportunity to teach my child that he still won, and can feel good about that, and can’t even lose that, because it is in his memory. God also might use a time when we are not happy about something, to teach us we have invested our happiness in the wrong thing. Our happiness can only be found in Him.

Some of my friends and relatives at various times have asked “why is God allowing you to endure so much (or your family).”  Or they will remark on how “strong” I am because of stuff I lived through. Well, neither of those sentiments are accurate. We live in a fallen world. God didn’t make human life the way it is, we did. Humanity. We make bad choices, more often than not.We make wrong, sinful choices.  God created man and woman, provided everything they could possibly need right there in the garden. They got to wanting something they weren’t supposed to have. They had been happy up until then. What changed? Well, it’s always the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life.

The lust of the eyes is covetousness. They coveted the fruit that was the one single thing God never granted them access to.

The lust of the flesh has to do with appetites. Not just food, but money, the “good life” depicted by Hollywood. Alchohol, drugs, various kinds of immorality, the gratuity of “getting away with” various crimes. The depths of depravity crime can lead to are disturbing indeed. But they all start out with a thought, a “temptation”. Temptation is not sin. If we choose to dwell on the temptation, that is sin. Sinful thoughts, if not quashed right away, become action. And then addiction, and then it require darker things.

The pride of life:  wanting to be admired, to be powerful, to be extremely wealthy. Why do you think the term “filthy rich” exists?

Jesus told us it is harder for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Does that mean if you are a rich Christian, God is going to take away your riches before you die? I don’t know. (Let’s ask Mike Lindell).

Think of the worst crime you can imagine being subjected to. Do you wonder how the heart of someone could get dark enough to do that to another human being? Do you realize you and I are capable of that evil? If you don’t know that, your test is coming. He isn’t testing us for His benefit. He knows what is in our hearts. It is full of evil and desperately wicked.  We  have to learn that about ourselves! Some people just “know” they would “never”… oh, watch out, now!

Take you  out of your middle class upbringing, take away one or both parents, land in foster care where you get abused and thrown away, over and over. Then see what you might be tempted to do, capable of doing. Satan steals, kills, and destroys, in cooperation with the flesh of man.

God did not cause any of those things, but if you are that foster child I bet those form in you some very different views on God, and justice, and love, than you have now.

He has to take us from  where we are, as we are, and make something new out of us. Upcycling is a big trend. It always entails making a mess, tearing away; hammers and axes, or seam rippers and scissors. When we get saved, He starts from scratch. Upcycling will happen when we die or get raptured ( soon)!

I try to remember to just be thankful that He cares enough to work on me. From that perspective, do we want the struggles to stop? Part of us does, but it’s that part we are meant to die to.  He knows our frame. He knows what we can endure, and when we need a reprieve. Sometimes I tell Him anyway. Then He corrects me.

There are all kinds of things that get stronger or sweeter by being broken or squeezed out. Think about it. To get wine, you have to crush grapes. A broken bone that heals, is stronger and sturdier where it heals, than other parts of the bone that haven’t been broken. Leather gets more supple the more it is distressed. Copper hardens when you hammer it. But hammer too much, and it becomes brittle.

Sometimes the difference between growing and getting stuck, is down to nothing else but perspective. If God is refusing to end the trials, perhaps He is only waiting for you to change your thinking?  Too many people confuse feelings as facts, (“I can’t help how I feel), and too many also erroneously believe that they can’t change how they feel. Of course you can change how you feel! 

I hated my senior pictures. I hated them because my Mom insisted on “fixing my hair”. She fixed it like it was the 1960’s. Now when I see it, I’m like…”..Look how skinny I was!” I don’t even see the hair. It’s no longer even about the hair. Different focus= different perspective. How about this one: You’re 4 years old, and you just love the cows on your grandparent’s farm. You sit down to lunch, hamburgers, and you loooove hamburgers! Then your mean cousin tells you hamburger is cow. All of a sudden, you feel very differently about hamburgers. You hate them, and you hate your mean cousin.

Feelings follow thoughts, not vice versa.

Distract yourself. Replace those thoughts with better ones. You just have an undisciplined mind. Maybe your trials are ongoing because God is trying to change that!

How did I get so accepting of trials and chastisments? I guess I’m a fairly quick learner, or maybe I’m just lazy.  My way is harder!! How many times have you said something like this; “my kids think I’m stupid”. Do you think you are smarter than God?

Think about it. He knows the future. How many times do we think back to the time we were not the grown ups, and wish it could be that simple again? Decide to trust. You trusted your parents without even knowing what you needed, right? Well, let me ask you something? Have you really gotten any better at knowing what you need?

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