I ran across this quote for Scott Peck from his book, The Road Less Traveled:
“Life is difficult. This is one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult not longer matters.”
“Most don’t fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life should be easy…”
“I know about this moaning because I have done my share.”
Jesus said it much more succinctly: “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)
For whatever reasons — romantic movies that always end well; an American culture that proclaims this is a land of peace and prosperity; parents who assured us that everything will all work out in the end; even preachers that promise health and wealth with Jesus — we often end up with a belief that struggles in life, of any and all kinds, are somehow wrong or unfair. We embrace a fantasy world where we die quietly in bed at 80 or so years; we always seem to have enough money to live comfortably; all our relationships are smooth and amicable; and people know our names and assign value to us throughout our lives. And really interesting is the reality that when our fantasy world doesn’t play out, we often blame God.
The answer to “Why is the world this way?” lies in the first chapters of the first book of the Bible. Genesis 3 is the record of the introduction of sin into the world…and it has been here ever since. The simple fact is that we live in a world polluted, degraded and twisted by sin.
Death was not an issue in the Garden…until sin. Prosperity and the accumulation of things was never on Adam and Eve’s minds…until sin. The first couple had a shameless and intimate relationship with each other and their God…until sin. And there was no need to strive for recognition because the Lord God walked in the same Garden…until sin.
So here we are in a world where the consequences of ever present sin play out. Sickness, disease and physical death plague us. We feel driven to acquire. Relationships are incredibly hard work. And we often wonder if we matter, if anyone really knows we are here.
Thankfully, Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection, provided the answer to the real problem…sin. Sadly, we may overlook the impact and significance of this awesome and unbelievable act of love and sacrifice because we are more focused on the consequences of sin than the problem of sin. We probably spend a lot of time praying for healing of sickness and disease; long life; financial stability; healing of our broken relationships; and a sense of purpose and value. These are all good things to pray about, for sure. However, if we do not embrace the truth that life is difficult, we may forget to tell the Father how thankful and hopeful we are because Jesus provides a solution to the ultimate problem.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart (be of good cheer, be encouraged)! I have overcome the world.” It is “the rest of the story” that makes working with people in ministry so incredibly rewarding.