The Easiest of the Hard is Still Hard
In the midst of a worship service, with the power of God’s Word upon us and our voices united in worship, I often get a fervent resolve to walk steadfastly with Jesus. But I marvel at how little it takes to trip me up and leave me scrambling to stay on my feet. Mere minutes after that holy moment the beautiful vision can vanish like a power outage in the face of some unexpected challenge.
I know this shouldn’t surprise me. Jesus warned us the path is hard that leads to life. (Matthew 7:14 ESV) We readily acknowledge this to be true, but when hard actually arrives in specific form it is always unexpected and difficult. The six-month old is still waking up four or five times a night. The transmission just went out at the same time as the fridge. The chronic pain has flared up again forcing a rearrangement of work, school and even meals. The kids are sick and it’s your busiest season at work. Your close friend just confided their marriage is ending. Mom just called with a diagnosis of cancer.
Even the mildest of these can send you tumbling and the stronger ones may lay you out for a while. However, if you pull back a bit and look at the bigger picture you see that the difficulties of our hard road are quite unremarkable compared to the hard commonly faced by many of our brothers and sisters. Hard for them is struggling to survive on pennies a day, without sufficient food, clean water or basic health care. Hard is facing severe persecution simply for naming Jesus as their Savior. Last Thursday we prayed for believers in Afghanistan, a miniscule .05% of the population. How many of them face the hard of not knowing even one other Christian?
That level of ‘hard’ is completely out of my reckoning. Yet Jesus instructs them the same as us: “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Jesus is simple and clear. He promises he is worth it and he will always be with us, whether our path is the easiest of the hard or the hardest.