In this life you WILL have trouble,” Jesus proclaimed (Matt 16:33b)

I didn’t grow up in a biblical home.  Sure I knew that people had problems.  The quiet neighbor across the street murdered his wife.  My parents were divorced for ten years of my life. My mom had suffered a mental breakdown when she was in her 20s.  But none of that really touched me.  So when I started encountering my own personal setbacks, I reacted with genuine but predictable “That’s not fair!”

What I’ve learned since is

  • we all have problems
  • some people have it worse
  • once you get through one problem, there is always another

Anne, my daughter-in-law puts it this way when describing their current suffering:  “That’s just OUR HARD!”

This remark popped up during a discussion about another family she and toddler Noah had recently visited.  Anne and her husband Wes’ our hard is the deployment with its separation and intermittent anxiety.

Anne and I were savoring God’s promise in Psalm 84:11 to withhold NO GOOD thing from those of us who trust in Jesus’ righteousness.   Although Anne quickly asserted that she very much wants to see Wes sooner than the scheduled August return, she also doesn’t want to miss out on any of the ‘good things’ that God has planned.

What an attitude!  I love how she has captured human problems as a series of ‘our hards’.   (I have her permission to quote her!)

Not only knowing that God has good gifts stockpiled among life’s pressures, problems and pains, but the fact that our ‘lot’ is actually appointed for us is a comfort:   Look at how Job describes God’s plans in chapter 23: 10-14

But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
11 My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
12 I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
13 But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.
14 For he will complete what he appoints for me,
and many such things are in his mind.

Don’t think that this is just primitive man’s understanding of God.  In the New Testament, Paul affirms this very same truth – that God PLANS/PREMEDITATES/PURPOSES each individual life, packed with intentional circumstances and experiences.  We don’t and WON’T KNOW all the whys and wherefores, but we can trust Him.  Over and over in Scripture, we read of God’s mercy, loving kindness and compassion that go together with His sovereign control and sustaining of all.

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.  (1 Cor 7:17)


You say, : “Okay, so it’s a fact that life is hard and that these situations are planned for us by God.   Du-uh!  All one has to do is open his eyes and see the suffering. Where’s the good news in that?”

It’s coming!  Bear with me a moment……

God HAS promised to give us peace, but it is conditional.  We’ve got to do something.  Let’s look at another gospel where Jesus talks about trials.  In John 16:33 He says:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

What do we have to do to get that peace?   One action, based on knowledge:

We are called to take heart, to encourage ourselves. How?  By knowing who Jesus is and who we are if we are united to Him.   Jesus tells us that if HE has rescued, redeemed and brought us into His Kingdom as His subject/family member/ steward/ ambassador/ soldier, then we have EVERYTHING we need to live on Earth and grow more holy.

(2 Peter 1:2-3) Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Here’s another promise that can give us peace IF we soak it into our pores:

All things, all the our hards work TOGETHER (that’s divine coordination) for our GOOD, for us who belong to His forever family who are purposed by Him to love Him.

(my paraphrase of Romans 8:28)

So God equips His people and promises that the fact that Jesus has overcome the world makes the difference in our suffering.  The resurrection is how Jesus has overcome the world.  And if we are unified with Jesus, then we ultimate overcome our suffering instead of being overcome.  Being in Christ means we have access to supernatural power and wisdom.

Now all this valley-slogging, these our hards are definitely painful.  No denying that. But somehow knowing that……..

-they are planned

-for my good

-and are meant for me to face and walk through equipped with Jesus’ presence and tools

….makes the difference.  As John Piper says, “Let’s not waste our suffering!”

So what is your OUR HARD and how are you blessed?