I love September. The beginning of the school year feels like a fresh start in so many ways – even more than January. New clothes, new weather, new teachers, new routines. September allows us to set goals, try different activities, and greet the school year with new attitudes.
This September feels a little different, though. Instead of the months stretching out before us like a blank slate waiting to be filled with good things, our road looks a little bumpier and more uncertain. If I had to come up with a motto for our family this year, it might be “let’s do the hard things.”
The list of hard things we’re attempting this year is long and complicated –
A new middle school
A new job
As my family moves through this year doing the good (but hard) things that God has prepared for us, we’re going to try to remember these three things:
Hard is normal. Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” We long and pray and strive for comfort and ease in every area of our lives, but according to Jesus himself, trouble is normal and expected. We act like something is wrong when we encounter obstacles and resistance, but maybe the opposite should be true.
Hard produces growth. One of the most difficult verses in the Bible for me to grasp has always been James 1:2. In it, James tells believers to greet times of trouble and affliction with pure joy. This is really easy to say, but seemingly impossible to do unless we realize that trials have a holy purpose! James tells us that the hard times are what make us mature. We don’t become mature and complete by living easy, stress-free lives.
Hard turns us to God. There’s nothing like feeling completely incapable and hopeless to send you straight to the throne of God (on your face). And this is a good thing! When our lives are manageable and our problems easily solved, we have no real need of God. David says in Psalm 18:6, “In my distress I called to the Lord; I called to my God for help.” Tough times remind us that we aren’t God, and our real help doesn’t come from our own strength.
When I think about these truths, it makes the hard times seem worth it and somehow easier. Instead of dreading the work and struggle that doing hard things might bring, let’s look forward in anticipation to the growth and discipleship we’ll experience!