“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11).
MANY MAY AGREE TO LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE WHEN IT’S EASY, BUT NOT MANY WILL LIVE IT WHEN IT’S HARD. Difficulty has often been the deterrent of those who started out to follow the Lord. So James says, “We count them blessed who endure.”
One of Jesus’ most familiar parables is the Parable of the Sower, the story of the seed scattered on different kinds of soil. In interpreting the parable, Jesus said that the “stony ground” represented the person “who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Matthew 13:20,21). It’s a sad fact that some will renounce the gospel when serious difficulty arises.
No doubt, there are times when all of us are tempted to say, “But Lord, this is hard.” At such times, He would probably say, “I told you it would be hard. What were you expecting?” Paul said that we “must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22), and he often warned his hearers that being a Christian would involve hardship (1 Thessalonians 3:3,4).
It is not as if God doesn’t know the difficulties we face. We can never say, “God, You have no idea what You have asked of us or how hard it is.” He does know how hard it is, and He is not unaware of our efforts on His behalf (Hebrews 6:10). Besides, nothing we can do for God will ever be as hard as what Jesus did for us.
In secular matters, the honorable people are those who tackle difficulty with a do-or-die attitude. The quitters are soon forgotten; they are irrelevant to the real work that goes on in the world. In spiritual matters, it is no different. Those who complain, “Lord, I would have done my duty, but it was just so hard,” won’t ever make much of a contribution to the kingdom — because hard is exactly what the work of the kingdom is. So we need to take heed how we deal with difficulty. The Lord has always been patient with those who are willing to keep trying. But those who quit trying shouldn’t expect the Lord’s praise or anybody else’s.
“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts” (Samuel Grafton).