[Sketch of Peter sinking, by Rembrandt]
I’ve been thinking a lot about hardship lately: hardship in relationships, hardship in the work place, hardship with critics, difficult people or challenging circumstances.
Hardships, as frustrating as they are, seem to be commonplace in scripture.
To me, as I reflect on the way the heroes of the faith dealt with hardship one thing emerges—their faith worked.
For Nehemiah, his faith worked through a stick-to-it attitude and organization gifting he passionately put to work.
For David, his faith worked through poetry—articulating his anguish, despair and desperation through prayers directed to God and concluding them by calling to memory the faithfulness and unfailing love of his Good Shepherd.
For Jesus, his faith worked through absolute obedience and submission to the plan of God and his call to continue to give himself away for those he loved—despite the critic, the difficult people and the overwhelming circumstances.
Whatever the hardship, it doesn’t box us out from the possibility of moving forward in faith. Challenging people or circumstances can never fully be dead ends in life—faith always works its way forward as it follows the Good Shepherd.
We can experience anguish.
The circumstances can require all of our energy and ingenuity.
The trials can cost us our comfort and bring pain and persecution.
But we always have the choice to focus on the presence of problems or the possibility of solutions.
We always have the choice, like Peter walking on water, to see the chaos swirling at our feet or, just beyond that, the savior calling us forward.
We’ll never deal with hardship perfectly every time or even in every season.
But “…though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.”