Don’t you just get tired of dealing with the hard stuff? I sure do!
Things like strained relationships, difficult bosses, constant conflict, illness, and financial stress can cause our hands to droop and our knees to wobble. Sometimes we can look over our shoulders and just want to turn back.
It’s hard to respond well when life isn’t well. But, if you and I can view our hardship as purposeful, it helps us to respond better. And, one way we can do this is to see it as discipline.
Now, don’t worry, sister! I didn’t say punishment. Unlike punishment, discipline trains you and makes you stronger.
The writer of Hebrews even says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
The hard stuff has big potential to bring better days, depending on our response to it.
So, today on the 4:13 Podcast, KC and I talk about four different responses you can have to hard stuff. But, spoiler alert … only two ways are good ways. This practical encouragement is just what you need—you’ll see!
4 Ways to Respond to Hardship
- The forlorn fatalist. This person blames her hard stuff on the law of averages. She says, “Everybody has trouble. Stuff happens. It’s just my lot in life.” Over half a century ago, Doris Day hit the charts singing, “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.” Today, we’d just roll our eyes and say, “Whatever.” Instead of learning from the hard stuff, the fatalist passes it off with a shrug.
The writer of Hebrews, however, warns us not to do that! “Do not make light of the Lord’s discipline” (Hebrews 12:5). In other words, don’t take lightly what He’s doing in your life through the hard stuff. What God does in your life is no light thing. It’s purposeful, and when you really grasp that, it makes you stronger.
- The frail fainter. When life gets hard, this person collapses and quits! She picks up her marbles–or gathers her scrapbooking gear–and goes home. If you listen closely, you can hear the frail fainter whine, “Why did this happen to me? WHY? I can’t take it anymore. It’s just not worth living the Christian life if this is how it is.” You get the picture. She simply fades and eventually faints.
The hard stuff you face has big potential to bring better days if you respond well to it. [Click to Tweet]
Hebrews 12:5 says, “…do not lose heart when he rebukes you.” The writer of Hebrews calls it a rebuke. Remember, this passage is about God’s discipline and how He can use the hard things in our lives to discipline us. And, often, when we feel the crush of the hard stuff and feel that discipline, we can feel discouraged. We lose heart if we’re not committed and in it to win it.
Hebrews also says, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39). Instead of fainting, have faith. Set your hope on the fact that God will sustain you and strengthen you, no matter what you are facing.
- The faithful follower. This is the person who endures! Hebrews 12:7 says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons” … or, in our case, daughters. Sometimes we see the word endure, and it conjures up pictures of someone nursing her wounds and barely hanging on. But that’s not what it means. This isn’t passive! The term endure in its original language actually means “to actively persevere.”
If you’re feeling the press of hard stuff right now, endure—actively persevere no matter what. Keep your shoes on and walk with perseverance. Remain faithful, for there’s a reward beyond imagination waiting for you if you do. The Bible says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
- The fruitful finisher. This is the person who hasn’t fainted or freaked out! This is the sister who wasn’t forlorn. Instead, she was faithful and finished well. We want to be her too!
She’d assure us, “Hard stuff produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” If we remain faithful, we’ll become fruitful. Our fruitfulness depends on how we respond to all the hard stuff, though. Oh, girl, it may taste bitter right now, but sweetness is coming!
So, stay close to God, faithfully following no matter how bumpy the road. There can be good stuff in the hard stuff if you let it train and discipline you.
You aren’t alone. God’s with you every step of the way, and we’re all with you–striving to be faithful followers and fruitful finishers!
And remember that no matter what hard stuff you face, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking By Faith, Not By Sight
- Walking By Faith Bible Study
- Psalm 23: The Shepherd With Me Bible Study
Links Mentioned in This Episode
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What helps you rejoice even in hardship?