Why is this so hard?
Last week I was at a national conference for the Association of Classical and Christian Schools in Dallas, TX, and I attended a workshop led by George Grant, pastor of Parish Presbyterian Church in Franklin, TN, who has quickly become one of my favorite biographical speakers. The workshop was entitled “Why Is This So Hard? The World, the Flesh, and the Devil Against Reformation.” Now, while Pastor Grant was addressing educators, the message has very broad application.
His thesis was pretty simple: It’s hard because it’s supposed to be.
I guess I should have seen that coming, but I was expecting – in typical workshop fashion – something like, “Ten ways to maintain your passion and focus when the going gets tough.” Instead, I got the blunt reminder that nobody ever said anything worth doing was easy…because it almost never is.
In fact, what is easy? I mean, really. Try to think of something that is easy that is actually worth doing, important, valuable, culture-changing, lasting, whatever. None of it is easy. Because if we are a threat to the world or the devil, then we should anticipate resistance; if the world and the devil are fine with what we’re doing, then we should anticipate little resistance.
Am I suggesting that anything that’s easy is of the devil? No, not necessarily. That’s not the point. But when we find ourselves asking “Why is this so hard?”, we should be encouraged to know that the difficulty is probably a good sign.
So, what do we need to remember when it gets hard?
- We are making the enemy nervous. He is threatened and is forced to direct greater attention our way because we are rattling the gates of the the Kingdom of Darkness. And anything that Christians do to generate greater happiness, influence or dominion in the domain of darkness makes the devil nervous.
- We are used to failing – and so is everyone around us who is trying to steal our dreams. People quickly point out all that could go wrong, assuming that we can’t possibly have counted the cost or we’d stick with what we’ve always done.
- Growth is uncomfortable. In fact, growth cannot happen in your comfort zone.
- Reward doesn’t come without risk. We’ve said it all and heard it all before:
Don’t invest those dollars, because you may lose them.
Don’t start that school (or business), because people might not come and then what will you do?
Do you have any idea how much work it’s going to be to lose fifty pounds? You’ll probably just burn out and quit, so why bother starting? Just be content with who you are.
If you ask for that raise, your boss may tell you, “No,” and that would be humiliating. It’s better to just take less money and retain your dignity.
The list goes on and on and on. But in each of these examples the reward could be tremendous, but it will not come without risk.
- Easy success breeds independence. If it were easy we would become self-reliant and would not depend on God as we ought. God forbid.
- Others have gone before us…and it was hard for them, too. Grant pointed to the examples of Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. All three men faced tremendous adversity because while God was using them to make a lasting spiritual impact in the world.
So what about us at ECS? We will be collecting registration paperwork and first semester payments in a matter of days, and we are squarely in a holding pattern, waiting for new students to enroll and for the first semester to begin. Many of us are excited and downright impatient. Others are nervous. Still others are overwhelmed. Personally, I’m all of them at once.
But we can be certain of this: Just like anything else with a gargantuan upside, this is going to be hard. It’s going to be hard because it’s supposed to be. We are a major threat to the enemy and to the world, and we are looking to create generation after generation of worshipers who will be dangerous weapons in the hand of our Redeemer King. God willing, they will be familiar with hard work mixed with happiness; the mindset of fallen man filtered through Scripture and the mind of God; their place in the river of Western culture and the river’s source and destination.
I’m guessing that what we have become as a society is less like a threat to Satan than it is like a warm blanket: ambivalent about religion, ignorant about history, apologetically spineless, altogether faithless. But when it comes to the Church, we remember the words of Martin Luther (still another guy familiar with adversity):
For still our ancient foe,
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And crowned with cruel hate;
On earth is not his equal.
But Luther doesn’t stop there. Two verses later he offers excited encouragement:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure;
One little word shall fell him.
It’s hard because it’s supposed to be. We face resistance from the world, the devil and even our own hearts. But we also know that the future is bright, because we serve Christ Jesus. Let’s let Luther take us home:
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing.
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle!
Risus est bellum.