"Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” Proverbs 12:11 (NIV)
This year our church looks back on its 225 year history. As I think about that along with some comments from my brother Rod and one of our Deacons - Tom Crowell; it occurs to me that there was a time in this country when hard work was expected and understood.
Our culture has spent the last several decades trying to make everything easier, which is not bad in itself, but it (along with just about every commercial we've ever seen) has given rise to an attitude and expectation that everything should be easy. Relationships like marriage should be easy. Getting a high paying job should be easy. That same high paying job should also be easy. Having nice things; being highly thought of by one’s peers; getting in shape; getting beyond painful experiences – should all be easy.
And if a short burst of energy doesn’t bring results, we abandon the situation and move on; or we drown in hopelessness or self medicate, thinking something must be wrong with us.
Well, I'm here to say we’ve been sold a lie and deep down we all know it. Life is not easy. Never has been, never will be on this earth. Even wealthy people and celebrities have problems that money can’t solve.
The truth? Life is hard; marriage is hard; parenting is hard; building and keeping friendships is hard; eating right and exercising are hard; saving money is hard; and coming through loss, grief and trial is hard. Not so hard as to be impossible, but to require work - time, energy, commitment, and perseverance. These are the things that ultimately yield results. Even building faith in God - the real kind that sustains us in trial - takes effort. Time on our knees, time in God's word, crying out to God for understanding, even being humble enough to ask for help from others - now that's hard!!
These are the things that many people in former generations understood and expected. But even they got something wrong. They worked twice as hard so that their kids and grandkids wouldn’t have to go through what they did. What they didn’t realize is that it was those tough times and hard work that made them into strong, resilient, overcomers who were prepared when new challenges and difficulties came.
Yes, my friend, it’s still true today (and always will be), “Anything really worth having is worth working for.” To expect things to be easy is to end up disappointed and probably depressed. However, to expect to work hard, while also expecting that work to pay off, leads not only to accomplishment and satisfaction, but to strength of character.
"Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 (NLT)
"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." Romans 5:3–4 (ESV)
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 (ESV):
"In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." (see Prov. 3:5-6)
So let us throw off the lie. It's NOT going to be easy. But with the Lord's help, what we reap down the road will be so worth the effort.
On the journey with you,