Authored by Marie Story
Over a year ago, I moved to my current location where I needed to get my visa sorted out. It seemed straightforward and uncomplicated. Still, I worried.
I prayed, “Lord, make this all go quick and easy.”
It didn’t. We faced delays and setbacks, as the help we were counting on didn’t come through. Right when we thought we had what we needed, something would fall through, and we’d be back to square one.
Six long months went by before we were even able to collect all the necessary paperwork. Once everything was finally submitted, then it was a matter of waiting … and waiting … showing up for an appointment … and then waiting some more.
After nearly a year, my visa finally came through! It wasn’t quick, and despite all my prayers, it wasn’t easy.
Why does life work that way?
It seems that few things in life come through quickly or are easy to accomplish. Anything of value generally requires considerable time and energy to achieve. But when you’re trying your best to follow God, and you’re focused on doing what He wants you to do, the waiting and the struggle can make you wonder why He isn’t making it easier for you.
Perhaps it’s because we’re looking at things from the wrong perspective. When things aren’t quick and easy to achieve, it’s not God “making things tough” for us. Simply put, it’s a necessary part of life, and our response to the difficulties we face is what determines the rate of our growth and the strength of our faith.
Imagine you’re riding a bicycle to a specific destination. Most of the way is smooth and a pretty easy ride. But then you come to a hill, and you realize your trip is gonna be a bit tougher than you originally expected.
What do you do at this point? Do you give up because things aren’t as easy as you expected them to be? Or do you gather your wits and tackle that hill?
The only way you’ll get to your desired destination is by tackling that hill. It’ll take time and energy, and you’re likely to break a good sweat, but in the end, you’ll reach your goal.
Let’s say that once you’re halfway up that hill, you realize it’s MUCH harder to pedal your bike to the top than you expected. Even after you determined that you would tackle the hill and mustered all your energy, it turned out to be way tougher than you assumed it would be.
Again, you have two options. You can quit cycling, turn around and go back down the hill, frustrated because your goal was just “too hard” to achieve. Or you can dig your heels in and press on.
Almost anything worth achieving is gonna take this kind of determination. Things might start out easy breezy, but sooner or later you’re going to run into a challenge.—Something that’s definitely NOT quick or easy to get through. At those points in life you will have to decide whether you’re gonna quit or whether you’re going to gather your wits and press on to your goal.
This general mindset is a vital one to have in life, yet I see it coming to play even more in my life as a Christian. Many times, following Jesus seems quite easy when obeying Him comes with good feelings and immediate rewards. Other times, though, the things He asks of me are not easy, nor are they quickly accomplished.
Perhaps He has asked me to change something in my personal life. Perhaps He has asked me to stand up for my faith regardless of the opinions of others. Perhaps He has asked me to take a step in my life that I don’t feel prepared for. I know I have two choices before me. I can sit down and cry about things not being “easy,” or I can tackle the challenge, knowing that the end goal is well worth reaching.
In the late 1800s, Colonel J. H. Patterson was recruited to oversee the building of a railway bridge in Kenya. It was an important project as it would increase the reach of the British East African Railway.
Not long after Patterson arrived, workers began to disappear from the camp. It was quickly discovered that two man-eating lions were stalking the campsites, picking off the workers one by one.
He went to work right away to stop the rampage. He tried elaborate hunting schemes and traps, but the man-eaters almost seemed to anticipate the traps and always eluded capture. With camps scattered across a thirty-mile stretch, the lions would strike in a different camp each night. When the body count climbed above thirty, the terrified work crew members rushed to board passing trains, deserting their jobs on the railway bridge.
The Superintendent of Police showed up with some men to help hunt the lions, but they didn’t stick around long either. Finally, Patterson was left alone to handle this dangerous and life-threatening situation.
In the end, Patterson was finally able to kill both lions. Wikipedia says it took several months with failed attempts and near misses. The first lion was killed on the 9th of December, and the other lion 20 days later, with Patterson nearly being killed in the process. After the lions were killed, the workers returned and the bridge was completed on time.1
I doubt Colonel Patterson went to Africa expecting everything to be easy. I mean, they were building a bridge in the late 1800s! That in itself meant a myriad of challenges. When he found himself having to face the problem of man-eating lions, however, it would have been understandable if he had just walked away. He didn’t, though, and through his courage, the lions were defeated, his men were rallied, and the job was accomplished.
Hebrews 12:12, 13 and 15 tells us, “Lift up your tired hands … and strengthen your trembling knees! Keep walking on straight paths. … Guard against turning back.”2 It seems like Paul is telling us, “Things aren’t always gonna be easy, but don’t quit when the going gets tough.”
If we want success, we have to realize that often it won’t come quickly or easily. The only way we’re going to reach lasting success and true fulfillment is by pushing on in spite of whatever challenges we may face. If we can understand that, then we can be ready for the challenges, face them head-on, and overcome them!
2 Good News Translation (GNT).
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by Simon W. Copyright © 2012 by The Family International