Today I will be running my fourth half marathon. It’s not easy for me to run, ever. But when I’m done I feel like I can conquer the world. I’m regularly surprised by how much I’m able to improve my speed, lengthen my distance, or increase the enjoyment of my runs. The other day while I was running, a song came through my earbuds that described something as both miserable and magical. I don’t know what the singer was talking about, but that is exactly how I feel about running half marathons. It is grueling and I continuously doubt my sanity along the course. But when I finish, I realize that the hard stuff in life is always worth it.
Because it is in the hard things that we grow and we learn and we start to see life differently. We begin to realize that life is bigger than ourselves. We start to see that we can do more than we ever dreamed possible. Hard things help us recognize our need for a Savior who holds all the power. Hard things lead us to rely on the community around us, our family, our friends, our neighbors. Hard things give us clarity on our priorities, forcing us to decide what’s most important to us. Hard things take us out of our crazy, hectic, always on the go lives and help us pause to reflect on the reason we are living in the first place.
God never promised us a life of ease. Whether we experience self-imposed hard things like distance running, or out of our control hard things like a terrible medical diagnosis, or a disappointing hard thing that resulted from our own poor decisions. Hard things are sure to come over and over again throughout our lives. But the great thing is that hard things don’t have to cause us great fear. Hard things won’t break us. Hard things can never defeat us.
“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his Glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” – Isaiah 40:29
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1
We don’t need to live our lives hiding from difficult moments. We can face life’s storms head on. We can push ourselves into uncomfortable situations that require us to grow. We can embrace the hard times knowing full well that the creator of the universe loves us deeply and endlessly and he will not let us fail.
And when we cross the finish line of our hard times we will be new. We will look a little different. We will act a little different. We will think a little different. And we will live a little different. More fully, more alive, more joyful, more grateful, more purposeful. When the hard times are over we will recognize that life is a gift, one that must be opened anew each day. A gift to be treasured, a gift to be savored, a gift to be enjoyed, and a gift to expand through more hard times tomorrow. But we will know that hard times are what make life so amazing.
Go and do hard things today. And then come back here and tell us about it. Celebrate your hard things.