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I had a friend tell me tonight that he thought I was really handling the hardships of life with faith, and a peace that passes understanding. I’ve had people say, “I don’t see how you can be so trusting and joyful when your child has cancer…”

I wish I could claim some great level of faith, or a spectacular depth of spiritual maturity. To the contrary, I don’t find it hard at all to trust God, believe in Him, have faith in His care, and KNOW that everything we are going through is being overseen by a Loving God.

What’s the alternative? Hopelessness? Bitterness? Self pity? Blame God? Curse Him? Hate life? If you did nothing but take your only two options (faith/trust/joy vs. bitterness/despair/anger), I’ll take the faith and joy option simply because it’s a better alternative.

However, the real reason I choose joy and trust is because God has proven Himself faithful so many times in the past. Why doubt Him now? Besides, our trials are no harder than anyone else’s trials in PERCEPTION. Hardships are “hard” relative to our life experience.

A person badmouthing you, can devastate some people; it would hardly make my radar. A person could lose a job and become hopeless; it wouldn’t even be much of a bad day at this point in my life. But, that’s just because it’s relative. It’s not because the person who has endured greater trials is necessarily more faithful or more trusting, they just have a different level of experience. It’s not HOW HARD the trial is in reality; it’s how hard it feels to us based on our experience, and how we respond to it based where we are at spiritually.

It’s not a badge of honor to have endured more suffering, it’s just “LIFE”. How “hard” a trial is, is relative to our life experience, so we should NEVER trivialize someone who is having a really rough time with something we think is silly or insignificant.

A child breaks down in tears because another kid calls them a name. An NFL football player can get run over, cussed at and chewed out by a coach and it’s all part of his work day. What’s the difference? Life experience.

In the same way, a spiritually young Christian will have a hard time with relatively minor trials while a mature Christian appears to be able to joyfully endure major difficulties. Remember, what matters to God, is not the degree of difficulty of the trial, it’s how we respond to it given where we are at as Christians.

So the baby Christian who responds in kindness to unkind gossip, is just as Godly as the spiritually mature Christian who handles the death of a family member with faith and joy. God is glorified by both. The spiritually younger Christian learns from the spiritually older Christians as they see them deal with suffering. The mature Christians have the duty and joy of being able to model for the less mature, the joy of Christ in the face of hurt, loss and tragedy.

I wish I could pat myself on the back when someone says, “you are really handling this well, and being a Godly example” but it’s an easy choice given the alternative and after having watched God work through many other trials over the years. Oh, don’t get me wrong… suffering never quits hurting; trials never stop being stressful; sickness and loss never loses its sting. But the choice of faith, joy and trust in God becomes a no brainer after you’ve seen Him at work in the past.

Here are three practical reasons to always trust God, have joy and remain faithful no matter how hard it gets:

  1. The alternative is bitterness, anger or hopelessness
  2. He’s never failed to keep a promise yet: He won’t start with you
  3. You will be setting an example for others (children, friends, family); and they ARE watching whether you like it or not

What are your questions about how to handle the hardships of this life?