BY REV. TIM HARMON
LAKE PARK FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Life can be hard sometimes.
I know that sounds like a cliché. I know it sounds good to say when you are not the one down. But life CAN be hard sometimes. Even when you do everything right and you work hard and you try, life has a way of getting to you.
What are we to do? There remain three basic choices, although the variation of them is endless.
We can ignore the issues and just be unrealistically optimistic. "I know everything will turn out OK, and I'm just fine," was what one of my aunts said all the time. This approach not only ignores the reality of the situation, it blinds you to your part in reducing hardship or overcoming obstacles. It is a fool's response.
You could accept the fact and become defeatist and dark. "Life is gonna kick you anyway so why should I even try," was what I commonly heard from the inmates at the juvenile prison where I worked as a psychologist many years ago. The problem with this approach is its fatalism; its lack of life. It is absolute in its thought patterns and is also unrealistic. It too blinds you to your own part in redoing and living life.
The third choice is what Jesus did in his life and ministry. He accepted the facts -- Jesus knew the hardships in store for him -- yet he trusted in God and still moved forward. Jesus continued to make a difference, doing what he could to add life and walk forward, easing others' pain and hardship along the way. Even on the way to the cross he comforted the women of Jerusalem, allowed Simon to help him carry his cross, and talked with the thief on the cross promising him paradise. Jesus knew the hardship and suffering, but refused to let it stop him.
He did feel the weight and it was at times extreme and debilitating. He cried when his friend Lazarus died and he cried out to God on the cross. He was sad when those in his own town did not believe and this caused him to move on, only healing a few.
The pain was still real and the low moments were still there. But Jesus in His hope and trust in God the Father kept walking.
What choice do you make when faced with the hardships in your life? Are you unrealistically positive or unrealistically negative or do you accept the facts and walk through them with God? Do you continue to make a difference, bringing comfort and life in His name? As Paul said to the folks at Thessalonica, "God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up." (I Thessalonians 5: 9-11)