Why is hard stuff so hard?
Well, because it is hard. I know, real deep concept there, right?
What is hard stuff anyway?
Pretty much anything that takes you out of your comfort zone, or that alters your current circumstances. Now for some, this might be a bad hair day or a hang nail. For others, it can be laying in a hospital bed fighting for your life or figuring out how to get from point A to point B in a wheelchair by yourself.
The hard stuff I am talking about here is suffering. The definition is the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. The main idea here is undergoing, meaning to experience or being subjected to something.
I guess pain, distress, and hardship could be a little different for everyone. Think about this, people in third world countries would not define these the same as in our western culture.
However, the elements of pain, distress and hardship are still out of our comfort zone and into the hard stuff of life.
I know a few people who have suffered very little in their lives on this earth. I also know others who live in constant suffering without much hope of brighter days ahead.
So, what does this have to do with anything, especially with special needs and disabilities?
I challenge you to read the book of Titus. It will take you a short time to read and is packed with practical ways to live out your life no matter what your circumstances.
Take Paul’s admonition to Timothy as a young man on the island of Crete. These native individuals are described as pretty pathetic and worthless, even by their own standards. Paul instructs Timothy to teach what is right and to stop what is going wrong.
The most important theme that is repeated over and over is to live your life so no one can come up with anything bad to say about you. That is pretty cool. By the way, one of the groups he was talking to was slaves. They were to live lives of integrity even in their unique and not very pleasant situation. Think about this for a minute. Paul encouraged them to be faithful in their hardship.
When you face “your” pain, distress, and hardship, and you will to some degree at some point in your life, continue to live with integrity. The only way to do this is with Christ by your side. He never asks us to do something he hasn’t already lived through. He shows us the way literally by how he handled this life.
God also shows us in nature how suffering works. It is meant to better us, not wear us down.
Take for example, how a pearl is formed. A piece of grit is embedded in the inner layers of a shell. In order to keep the grit from destroying the delicate living membranes of the inner shell, it begins to coat the grit with a glass-like covering. It builds and builds over time until the shell dies and is buried in the depths and the pearl is lost or someone finds the pearl inside.
This is rather simplistic, but it works for the illustration. The grit in the shell is an irritation, a pain, distress, or hardship for the pearl. The shell doesn’t just give up or die right there, it tackles the problem. The pain is transformed into something beautiful and useful over time. It is not a quick process, but can even be years in the making. The best part is as long as the shell lives, the pearl grows bigger and bigger and eventually when found is extremely valuable.
The same goes for our own lives. God uses all the pain, distress, and hardships in our lives to better us and to develop something beautiful in us, that would never have been formed had we not experienced it in the first place.
How do I know this for sure? Is there really a purpose in “our pain?”
The writer of Hebrews 12:1-11 explains it way better than I can,
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by time, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus when through – all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
But don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
The child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us; so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like its’ going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!” From the Message, emphasis theirs.
If you need more convincing listen to Tenth Avenue North’s song, I Have This Hope.