I’m a sucker for a good t-shirt adoption fundraiser. (If you’ve run one, this is not news to you.) Recently I supported a family who put “Vale La Pena” on the front of the shirt. In English, this translates to “Worth It.”
I’m wearing the shirt as I write this. Every time I put it on, or even see it in my closet, I’m reminded that all of the hard stuff we’re doing is just that—
I need this reminder. As often as I can get it.
I think we have a tendency to expect life to be easy if we do all the right things. As a Christ-follower, I look to scripture for insight on how life is “supposed to be.” And as much as I’ve tried, I can’t find anything saying it will ever be easy, at least not this side of heaven. In fact, what I find is that God repeatedly tells us to do hard things.
Following God is hard.
Forgiving people is hard.
Putting others’ needs in front of mine is hard.
Giving them my best, even when I feel the worst, is really hard.
Trusting God is hard.
Believing he knows better than me is hard.
Listening to him, over some other really loud voices, is hard.
Accepting what he puts in front of me as exactly what I need can be really hard.
But when I look at the alternative… I just can’t stomach it.
I want to stand in front of my Creator and hear him utter the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I want to live with the joy that only comes from following God through thick and thin… and the freedom only available to those who put their faith in him.
This means I’d rather spend my days doing hard or uncomfortable things that ultimately glorify God, instead of easy or popular things that earn me accolades from the crowd but have no eternal value. And you know what? I have to keep telling myself that because doing hard things is rarely comfortable but always worth it.
It is hard; but the sort of compromise we’re hankering after is harder — in fact, it is impossible…. We are like eggs at present. And we cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.C.S. Lewis
What if this hard thing I’m doing is actually easing someone else’s pain and suffering? Wouldn’t it be better to ignore their difficulties and enjoy a comfortable life? God doesn’t want both of us to suffer, does he? No, he wants me to help (even suffer temporarily) in order to alleviate the other person’s suffering.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.1 Peter 5:10
Scripture is filled with people doing hard things to grow God’s kingdom. When my life is viewed from the rearview mirror, I want it to be just like that… which means I need to keep telling myself, “Vale La Pena.”
What hard thing has God put in front of you in this season? How is he equipping you to handle it? Maybe you might be encouraged, as I am, by John Newman’s mission prayer:
God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.Cardinal John Newman