“Nothing is ever easy.”
I’ve already said in various ways how this semester has been a growing experience. It has shown me a lot of my weaknesses and strengths (even though I feel like the “weakness” list is much longer…), I’ve been tested in a lot of ways and often failed. But when I get an answer wrong on an exam or an assignment, I usually remember the right answer after that better than all the other correct answers given.
It’s a little wearying when you finally wake up and realize that life is not and never will be easy. As one of my favorite authers writes often, “Nothing is ever easy.” Nothing of any importance anyway…it’s easy to oversleep, to lay around in pajamas all day, eat a bag of chocolate, and watch TV. But anything of significance usually takes work – some more work than others. Nothing is ever easy.
Jesus knows we’re weak, and so He gives us work and challenges and valleys to make us strong. You can’t develop muscles and strength unless you do weight bearing activities. You have to tear apart the weak muscles so that the muscles can grow back strong. It hurts. It is hard. Nothing is ever easy.
And that’s part of the bargain of being a child of God. Jesus wants us to bear fruit. “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” What struck me when I read this is that Jesus doesn’t just want us to bear some fruit…it’s not, “Oh, look at those nice three apples you’ve got growing there, good job!” When we DO bear fruit, His response is to prune us, so that we will bear even more. Merriam-Webster defines prune as, “to cut off or cut back parts of for better shape or more fruitful growth.” Cutting isn’t a fuzzy-feel-good experience. It’s painful.
In nursing, we learn right away that immobility is a bad, bad thing for our patients. Being bedridden puts patients at risk for pressure ulcers, collapsed lungs, edema, depression….every system of our body suffers, causing a quick downward spiral. As a nurse, my job is to get these patients up and mobile as soon as possible, but this is often met with resistance. If the consequences are so terrible, why don’t patients want to get out of bed?
The answer is simple… Pain. It hurts.
They want to stay in bed so they won’t hurt. But in the end, their body wastes away. The loving thing to do is to get these patients moving. And while there are many diplomatic ways to accomplish this, I’ve seen many patients aggravated with their nurse for making them move around. Working in a nursing home, I had many of our residents try to get me to help them move around, instead of them using their own muscles. When I helped them (because, that’s the nice thing to do, right? Lift someone out of bed because it hurts them to use their own legs?) I, without realizing it at the time, was doing them a disservice by taking from them the opportunity to become stronger, to heal.
Jesus has to do that a lot with us…pull us out of bed, make us walk on our own (while being right there to take care of us when needed), allow us to hurt as we move weak muscles… And I often whine and complain to Him, just like my residents used to do with their nurses. I expect Him to carry me, and become upset when He tells me to walk twenty feet on my own with only His supervision.
Christians often fall into the trap of believing that because we have Jesus, life is going to be easy and good. But life isn’t easy, because Jesus loves us and wants us to grow strong and capable and whole. We do ourselves a disservice by falling for Satan’s lie that our lives should be perfect, and that something is obviously wrong when it isn’t easy. Hard times aren’t seasons to simply survive, or get through…they are times to be Alive, to grow, to be active. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” If we go into survival mode every time a rainstorm hits, we’ll spend a majority of our lives hidden inside, wasted.
So how will you live your life, rain or shine?
Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.