Who Decides What Is Hard?by Cynthia Jennings on December 8, 2021
Does the negativity on the news and social media make you focus in on what’s hard in your life?
Do you blame God for the hard things in your life, asking why is this happening to me?
Do you look at others, comparing hard situations to conclude yours is way harder than the other persons?
Are you grumbling about the hard things in your life?
I sat with these questions for a while. Then the Holy Spirit took me to the book of Job.
Job is a wealthy man living in a land called Uz with his large family and extensive flocks. He is “blameless” and “upright,” always careful to avoid doing evil. One day, Satan (“the Adversary”) appears before God in heaven. God boasts to Satan about Job’s goodness, but Satan argues that Job is only good because God has blessed him abundantly. Satan challenges God that, if given permission to punish the man, Job will turn and curse God. God allows Satan to torment Job to test this bold claim, but he forbids Satan to take Job’s life in the process. Job’s response to these series of unfortunate events…. he refuses to curse God (Job 1:1-2:9), even though he doesn’t understand why the hardship is happening to him.
In the midst of our “hard” times we sometimes ask ourselves what did I do wrong? As Believers it’s not up to us to decide what’s hard and what’s not. Hardships in our lives don’t always equate to having done something wrong.
Job was an upright man, yet God allowed hardship to happen in his life.
Yes, hardships come with a cost. Rather it’s financial ruin, familial dissension, death, loss of possessions, health deterioration or uncertainty about life. Your friends might not understand why you’re having hardships and contend you must’ve done something wrong. As did Job’s friends (Job 4-23). In the midst of the hardship getting harder, his wife encourages him to curse God and to give up and die (Job 2:9). While struggling to accept his circumstances Job refused to curse God and give up. Job admits that he doesn’t even understand himself well enough to effectively plead his case to God. But nevertheless, Job never lost his faith in God even in the midst of hardships that tested him to his core.
God was showing Job who’s in control. God was also showing us, that we too as Christians can fall into the same trap as did Job’s friends by assuming someone’s suffering stems from their wrong doing. Statements such as, “It’s all for the best.” “It’s part of God’s plan.” “God never sends people more adversity than they can handle,” are all possibly true. However, in our well-intended quest to comfort a person during their hardship, we must not be foolish to think we know God’s plan or the reason for anyone else’s suffering. We often don’t even know the reason for our own suffering. It would be more truthful — and far more helpful — to admit, “I don’t know why this happened to you. No one should have to go through this.” “Is there anything I can do for you?” If we can do this, and then remain present, we may become an agent of God’s compassion.
God was showing Job His actions don’t depend on ours or what we have, He will do what’s best for us regardless of what we think is fair.
What I realized after reading the book of Job:
We all go through, just in different ways. Not only is it not up to me to decide what’s hard. Not only does God wants me to always remember who’s in control. But during times of hardship my focus need not only include my hardship, this is an opportunity to develop an” attitude of mind” toward others that Christ has toward me-- one of grace, love and understanding. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5).
PEARLStoPONDER: Hardships gives God a chance to reveal His greater purpose for you, but remember they may not unfold at the moment you desire. Your hardships also open up opportunities to be in a place for God to use you to show love and compassion towards others.
Joshua 1:9-- Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
John 16:33-- I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Romans 8:35-39-- 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Corinthians 6:3-5-- 3 We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger.
2 Corinthians 12:10-- For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.