And I thought life was supposed to be easy…

hardshipsI used to think that just because I was Christian life would automatically be “easy.”After all God Almighty, Creator of the universe was on MY side… everything I went through would be a piece of cake, right?

My life would be full or rainbows, butterflies, and happy feelings.

I’d wake up feeling abundant joy every morning and go to sleep with a huge smile on my face every night.

Life would always make sense.

My prayers would always get answered just like I wanted them to.

And I’d never have to go through one more valley again.

But that is so far from the truth.

No one gets a “get out of hard stuff in life” card. Especially not followers of Christ.

But before God taught me that trials would be the greatest blessings in my life I used to think that they were the worst things that could happen to me.

I used to even think that they were some kind of spiritual “sign” from God. That I was not being a “good enough Christian”. That I was doing something wrong. That I somehow deserved them and if only I fixed whatever it was I was doing I would live a problem-free life.

But that’s obviously not the case. Bad things happen to good people. It’s a part of life that we must all come to terms with. The sooner the better.

And when I think about people who lived hard lives one person in particular comes to mind. One very important person. A person I know very well. Jesus.

And the interesting this? He CHOSE to come down on earth to live that life here. He left the glories of heaven, the thousands of angels constantly exalting Him, the streets of gold… to live in a dark, broken world where he would be despised, rejected, and crucified… Wow. Who from us would choose to do the same? Leave the comforts and glory of heaven for a cruel world that wouldn’t ever understand who it is that walked among them? I don’t know if I’d be able to do it. But Jesus did.

As Jesus’ followers… I think that’s what God meant when He says in His Word that we must pick up our cross and follow Him.

Our cross is the life that He has planned for us to live.

A life where we become more like Christ every day.

A life where we serve Jesus by serving others (just like Jesus did).

For Jesus, His ultimate goal and purpose in life was to pick up that cross… to carry it to Calvary… to be crucified on it. That cross is what we often think about when we come to Jesus in prayer. When we remember His sacrifice for our sins. It is because of Jesus hanging on that cross  that we all have the free gift of salvation.

Often times when I think about “picking up my cross” it makes me cringe. Who wants to do that? It seems so hard. So burdensome. I mean, doesn’t God want me to enjoy this life? To be happy?

The answer to that is “yes”, of course! God originally created humans (Adam & Eve) for His enjoyment and for companionship. But we all know where the story goes from there…

And now that we are redeemed through what Christ did on the cross we can all have a relationship with Him and we can enjoy the life He has given us… but that doesn’t mean that life is going to be easy. After all, we still live in a sinful, fallen world.

And one of God’s purpose for us in this life is so that through constant communion with Him and His Word we will become more like Christ every day.

So we can shine His light to the dark and broken world.

So we can be His hands and feet to hurting people.

So we can live a life of servanthood, just like Jesus did.

And becoming like Jesus requires going through things Jesus went through. It requires leaving a life of comfort and living life like Jesus did.

I read this quote by Rick Warren recently Since God intends to make you like Jesus, He will take you through the same experiences Jesus went through. That includes loneliness, temptation, stress, criticism, rejection, and many other problems.”

Honestly when I read this at first, I thought to myself “Wow… it all makes sense now. The heartaches and pain I’ve been through. The hardships. The rejections. The loneliness. Everything.”

And it made me realize that maybe I’m on the right track in life… that maybe this is exactly where God wants me to be.

Going through a few trials that test my faith.

Going through a period of loneliness that makes me depend on Him alone.

Not knowing what exactly lies ahead so that I can trust Him and His plan for my life over my own. So I can say “His Will be done, Not Mine”…

There are two ways you can look at the challenges in life. You can look at them as problems that you don’t want to deal with OR you can look at them as opportunities. Opportunities where you can learn to grow more like Jesus.

Think about the fruits of the spirit, which we should all develop and possess after growing in Christ and becoming more like Him.

Love… how will you truly learn to love until God puts people into your life that are difficult to love?

Joy…how will you learn to have joy until you find yourself in a place where you’re not even happy with circumstances in life and your joy can only come from God alone?

Peace…how can you learn to have peace until you are put into a stressful situation where all you want to do is stay up all night and worry + be anxious about your life?

Patience… how can you learn to be patient unless God gives you something in life that you really want but you have to wait on His perfect timing for?

Gentleness… how can you learn to be gentle unless you find yourself in a situation where you are arguing with someone and are tempted to say harsh words that you can’t take back?

Self-control… how can you learn to have self-control until you first have something you want to indulge in that will require you to have self-control to restrain yourself from doing it?

Faith… how can you learn to have faith until you find yourself in a place where all your options are gone.. your first plan, your back-up plan… and every plan after that and  you can only trust in God alone to get you through?

Perseverance… how can you learn to persevere with Christ until you fail or fall a few times… and need to get back up again and keep on trying?

When you start looking at challenges in life as opportunities… things change.

Temptations become opportunities to practice self-control.

Waiting becomes an opportunity to practice patience.

Stress becomes an opportunity to practice peace.

Discouragement becomes an opportunity to practice joy.

No, the situation doesn’t change. What’s going on in your life doesn’t all of a sudden disappear. But you will handle it differently. With a better attitude. With a purpose. And in the end… it will help you become exactly who  you want to be: like Jesus.

If you’re going through a difficult time in life right now don’t be discouraged.

Look at whatever you’re going through as an opportunity.

An opportunity to grow, to learn, to become more like Christ. Don’t waste this opportunity no matter how hard it may be, trust God with it. And don’t forget… the bigger the storm, the bigger the testimony!

Keep on holding on to Christ and following Him… and He’ll bring you through to the other side and help you learn a few things along the way. :) Be blessed! - Anna… ♥

going through hard times“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” – James 1:2

[Image creator unknown. Please respond if you know the author so credit can be given.]

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24 thoughts on “And I thought life was supposed to be easy…

  1. Jesus said we will have trouble in this life and if we truly seek after Him we will have lots of it. We will be contested by the enemy at every opportunity. But we take heart in that He has overcome the worlds systems. In Him, we are more than conquerors.

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  2. Wow, what an amazing post! Thank you for this, the Lord really used it to help me to see that no matter how difficult the trial, God can use it for our good. What an insightful way to view it as opportunities to grow in the fruits of the spirit.

    As an aside, I wondered if it would be okay with you if I was to post this (or alternatively, if you’d prefer, a link to this page) on my blog Rejoice in the Lord always (http://rejoiceinthelordalwaysrejoice.blogspot.co.nz/), as the blog I write at is aimed at encouraging fellow Christians if they are going through trials. This post really helped me, and I would love to let others see the list that you went through relating to the fruits of the Spirit.

    God bless! :D
    From your sister in Christ,
    Violet

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    • Thank you Violet! I’m so glad that it encouraged you! And you are more than welcome to post it on your site. :) Be blessed and continue encouraging and inspiring others through the words God places on your heart!

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  3. Pingback: Pedro Stories | When God Makes You Wait

  4. This is the life of the disciple. The Kingdom of God runs on dynamics which the kingdoms of this world cannot ever accept. The kingdoms of this world, after the fall, are run on entirely different principles. In the Kingdom of Jesus in order to become more you must become less. To live you must die. Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king. He could only conceptualise this in the temporal and natural realm. Power, control and authority. Jesus answered “My kingdom is not of this world”.

    In the Sermon on the Mount the true dynamics of His Kingdom are set out. Entirely opposed to the spirit of the world and the “survival of the fittest”. You are blessed when you are poor in spirit. When you are weak and drained and vulnerable. You are closer to your God when you are such. The world will chew you up and spit you out but the Kingdom of Christ will welcome you when you are at your very weakest and most needy. When you have nothing left. He will put a robe on you and you will be ushered into His courts. Better one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere. Then He will lead you by the hand and place you closest to His throne where your desperation and vulnerability will be met by His grace and mercy and loving-kindness. He is the Good Shepherd and our hearts are safe with Him. When your soul – your mind and emotions – are wearied by this world and its coldness. When your spirit is overwhelmed to the point of death He is telling us that this is when we qualify for entrance into His courts. This is when you truly meet with the beautiful King over this Kingdom. Our eyes will behold the King in all His beauty. All His beauty will be revealed to us.

    Blessed are you when you mourn, for then your God will comfort you. He will come to you and you will know His Presence. Blessed are you when you hunger and thirst for righteousness. Do not give up on your hunger. This world does not hunger for it and will not pay a price to enter into it. Let us not allow the spirit of this world to overrule our true calling, of being conformed to the likeness of Christ.

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    • We accept the lie that life is supposed to be easy. When you begin to dismantle this lie it has a dramatic effect. Then you simply live by faith day by day and walk with the Lord. Everything becomes and opportunity to draw closer to Him. All the time knowing that He is sovereign over all things. Having a steadfast faith. Not blown around by life. Whatever we face – loss, discouragement, sickness and disease, mental illnesses, set-backs, rejection (anything) – these all become fuel for the fire. We take them and turn them around. Like Joseph. There’s little point in us thinking these are nice Bible stories. These are the very keys to life. Its in forming a depth of relationship with the Lord that will see us through. What if the day comes when it will be the most unpopular thing in the world to be a Christian? This is already happening in parts of the world but we like to close our ears and eyes to it. Perhaps there is outright rejection coming to Christians in the west. Maybe we will become hated and hunted. I consider this will become a reality. Will we run? Can we run to our friends and families and look to the security we have built in this world?

      Man, I challenge myself sometimes.

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      • Yes, we don’t get persecuted in our civilized “free” country unlike many of the other countries around the world. I also wonder how strong and faithful we will remain in Christ when we are tested with persecution and hate. Especially when we all desire so much to be approved and liked by others. Then we would really know how much Christ truly means to us when the things we desire (acceptance and approval) is threatened to be taken away.

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  5. If he suffered much in this life from this world, as his servants there will be many things that we will face which will be hard, but our spiritual growth will be insured for through every hardship we endure, we are made better for we learn to love, care, help, not to be selfish, touching others in a much more true and genuine way with our lives. At the end of each day I reflect all that transpire and speak to God, to help me be better in all areas good and bad, and I always find myself blessed with a heavenly peace as I sleep. A spiritual caring life allows you to taste of the peace ahead when the spirit separates from the flesh. The pure love that lives within, from faith in God and following will multiply within the numbers who feel what we share. You words always lift and inspire…a cool glass of water on a burning hot day…so very refreshing…thanks Anna!

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    • I totally agree with you Wendell. The trials and sufferings in this life is the soil God uses for spiritual growth and we must go through it (just as Jesus did) so we can become more like Him.

      Although it may be hard at the moment in the end we always come out better because of it! That’s such an important and encouraging truth I hold on to during those difficult times in life… :) Thanks for stopping by. Be blessed!

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  6. There was a time when I thought that trials were a way of God keeping us on the straight and narrow, so to speak. A hit over the head. Like, “you’re doing something wrong, here’s a lesson, learn from it.” Then God threw a huge trial my way, I lost my husband and was basically alone to face the world and raise my 11 yr. old son. I learned that I was not alone, God was with me every step of the way, holding me up, carrying me. He was using that trial to show me Him. Then once I learned of His love for me, He began to teach me how to lean on Him and have joy no matter what. Thus more trials, the hardest one being losing my son last year. (23 yrs. after we lost his dad) Much more God has showed me and taught me through these trials and I totally agree with what you said. I don’t think I would have learned it all without the trials. Maybe some folks can, but not this stubborn, self-willed person. I so appreciated your post, so right on. That verse I was just reading and wrote in my notebook. I can’t say I look forward to trials, not quite there, yet, but when they come I try to be open to what God has to teach me and I praise Him and thank Him through it. Thanks!

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    • Wow Wendy, I can’t imagine being in your shoes and losing two people that are so dear to you. It’s so comforting to know that in our hardest trials God is right beside us, just as He was with you in yours and with me in mine.

      I don’t always look forward to going through trials but over my (somewhat still short) years I have learned that it’s those hard times in life that have taught me the most about God and have brought me closer to Him and have allowed me to lean on Him and trust Him in ways I never would had I not been going through them.

      I’m so glad that He used them to draw you closer to Him in your life, as He also does in mine. May we continue to trust Him and lean on Him with every thing that comes our way. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. Be blessed!

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  7. WONDERFUL! I came to know Christ in the midst of my struggles and I always thought of my walk thereafter as Jesus carrying me through them where as before I walked alone. As long as there is sin on this earth, our lives will always have trouble. We just have Jesus to walk us through them. :)

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    • Amen Julie! I loved the last part that you wrote. There will be trouble on earth (unfortunately) but thank God we have Jesus to carry us through the tough times as well as give us hope for eternity where there will be trouble no more! It’s so wonderful being His child! :)

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