The person who seeks easy things will never make much of his life. One who is afraid of hard work will never achieve anything worthwhile. On the tomb of Joseph II of Austria, in the royal cemetery at Vienna, is this pitiable epitaph that was prepared by direction of the king himself: “Here lies a monarch who, with the best intentions, never carried out a single plan.”
There are too many people who try to shirk hard things. They want to get along as easily as possible. They have ambition of a certain sort; but it is ambition to have the victory without the battle, to get the gold without digging for it. They would like to be intelligent and wise; but they do not care to toil in study and “burn the midnight oil,” as they must do if they would accomplish their desire. They wish to have plenty of money so that they may live comfortably and even luxuriously; but they hope to get it from some generous relative as an inheritance, or to have some wealthy person endow them. They have no thought of working hard year after year, toiling and saving like other people do, in order to earn for themselves – with their own hands – the fortune of their dreams. They have a certain longing to be noble and good, with a character that will command respect and confidence; but they do not have the spirit of self-denial and of earnest moral purpose which alone can produce such a character. They want to be good, and they want to grow into worthy adulthood; but they lack that passionate earnestness which alone will yield vigorous piety and manly virtue and the heroic qualities of true Christlikeness. Mere holy dreaming will yield nothing better than spiritual weakness. No religion is worthy which does not seek to attain the best things, and the best can only be won by the bravest struggle and the most persistent striving.
A mark of a noble nature is its desire to do hard things. Easy things do not satisfy it. It is happiest when it is wrestling with some task which requires it to do its best. Young people are fortunate when they are required to do things which they seem to be unable to do. It is under such pressure that they grow into their best. A young person is usually thought to be particularly favored, who misses difficult experiences and the enduring of hardships in youth… It is not so easy – but it is better – if young people have disappointments and responsibilities, and do not always have their own way. Thus they will be trained in self-restraint, and taught to submit their wills to God’s.
Of course, people do not always learn the lessons and obtain the character that should result from the hard things of earlier years. Some are not good learners in life’s school. Some grow bitter in disappointment, and lose the sweetness out of their lives, when they have to endure trials. But in all that is hard, there is the possibility of blessing; and the great problem of living is to find it, and to gather new nobleness and grace in all struggles and troubles.
It is perilous presumption to rush into the battle when we have no business in it, and when it is not our battle. Yet, on the other hand, we are not to be afraid of any struggle or temptation when it lies in the way of our duty. It is cowardly to shrink from the battle when we are called into it. When God leads us, He means to help us. No task which He assigns will ever prove too hard for us, if we do our best in Christ’s name. When we face a new condition for which it seems that we have neither strength nor skill, the only question is, “Is it our duty?” If so, then there is no doubt as to what we should do – nor do we need to have any fear of failure. Hard things become easy when we meet them with faith and courage!
In many ways, this habit of failing at hard things hurts a person’s life. These difficult things are put in our way – not to stop us in our course, but to call out our strength and develop our energy. If we never had anything but easy things to do – things requiring no effort – we would never get strong! If we timidly give up whenever we come to something that is hard, we shall never get beyond the attainments of childhood. If we decline the effort, and weakly say that we are not able to make it – then we have lost our chance of acquiring a new measure of power.
We should never forget that no one ever did anything of great value to others, without cost to himself. An old proverb says, “One cannot have an omelet without breaking eggs.” If we wish to do anything really worthwhile that will be a blessing in the world, we must not merely put in easy efforts, languid sympathies, conventional good wishes, and courtesies that cost nothing. We must put in thought, time, patience, self-denial, sleepless nights, and exhausting toil!
There is a legend of an artist who had found the secret of a wonderful red color, which no other artist could imitate. But the secret of his beautiful color died with him. However, after his death, an old wound was discovered over his heart. This revealed the source of the matchless hue in his pictures! The legend teaches us that no great achievement can be made, no lofty attainment can be reached, and nothing of much value to the world can be done – except at the cost of heart’s blood!
– adapted from J. R. Miller
Be honest with yourself… are you a person who prefers to go through life as easily as possible, or are you willing to seek to attain the best things by the bravest struggles and the most persistent strivings? Has the Lord given you a duty or responsibility in life, which you are attempting to avoid or evade? Perhaps it is as something as simple – and yet requiring so much effort! – as developing a stronger relationship with the members of your family. Never forget that nothing in life that is worthwhile can be achieved by “sliding along” or “doing the bare minimum.” Yes, it may require thought, time, self-denial, and perhaps even blood and tears; but we must also remember that when God calls us and leads us into a certain calling or responsibility, He intends to help us. No task which He assigns will ever prove too hard for us, if we do our best in Christ’s name! In everything that is hard, there is the possibility of blessing; pray to the Lord for grace to find it, and to gather new nobleness and grace in all our struggles and troubles!
Do you have any thoughts on today’s article? What hard things has the Lord called you to undertake for His glory? Feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below!
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for our King’s glory,
photo by James Staddon | Lenspiration.com