The reality of various hardships in life strikes more often than we would wish and usually harder than we think we can endure. Some battle guilt and depression while others fight health challenges, both on a daily basis. Within hours we may mourn the loss of one dear to us and also learn of the coming birth of a friend’s child. We are conflicted with sorrow and joy. We hurt inside, smile outside, and do not know which to believe ourselves. We can travel a short distance to see a young baby gain a new lease on life and then see someone older barely clinging to life, and all of this should cause us to consider the meaning of life.
Most of life falls between these extremes, and yet these extremes remind us of life’s fragility and our own mortality. They force us to confront important questions about how we are spending each moment between crises in life. Indeed, so much of what we do today seems to place us in a dreary march through banality and drudgery that we find ourselves living in survival mode without thinking about the beauties of life as God designed it. Job certainly reached this point during the trial of his patience. Considering the extent of his misery, his response might seem mild by today’s standards, and yet the heart of his complaint and his struggle makes identifying with him very easy during times of turmoil and loss. As he contemplated his own difficulties and his wish for his suffering to end, he pondered a question that offers the perspective necessary to persevere throughout all of life’s challenges: “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes” (Job 14:14). Job was weary of life and all its pain and heartache. However, this did not cause him to give up on life because of the prospects beyond this life.
Everyone suffers in life in some way. If you live long enough (and perhaps not even that long at all), you will face health problems. Even if your own health remains strong, you will have to face the sorrow and pain of losing loved ones or watching them suffer. Regardless, the human condition requires that you face hardship, because that is the nature of life. Temptation, which is at the core of human existence, confronts us all, and we must learn to address it and then deal with the guilt, the shame, and the consequences. All of this reminds us that we are unworthy of the life that God gave us, and yet herein lies one of the greatest beauties to see us through the pain and travail. We are not worthy of even this life, yet God offers us eternal life (1 Jn. 2:25). We do not have to be worthy of it, because it is a gift and because Jesus was (Heb. 5:8-9). However, what we must do is now make our life about Him through faith and obedience, with the confidence that, though we will die, we will live again (1 Cor. 15:19-20). And that hope can give us strength to overcome all the adversity we face in life now.