Why Is Life So Hard?

A few nights ago I woke up at 1:30 in the morning in a near panic. The dream I awoke from had confirmed my worst nightmare: that of being homeless.

It isn’t easy for a single woman to make it alone in our society.  Daily I feel the pressure to be two people: breadwinner and homemaker; repairman and chef; decision maker and nurturer.

More times than not, I feel as if I should be in two places at once. I should be outside mowing the lawn while also in the kitchen preparing dinner. I should be working 60 hours a week to make ends meet but also take time to nurture my children and grandchildren. It’s daunting.

A while back my lovely daughter-in-law tried reasoning my fears away. “What’s the worst that could happen, Mom? We put your things in storage and you sleep on our couch.” I know she meant this to be comforting, but it did nothing to alleviate my fear. Can you imagine that scenario for more than three days?

I was my father’s caregiver for seven years. The first three we lived independently; the last four we shared a home. He was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s and was also totally deaf in one ear and 80% deaf in the other. Communication was a struggle for both of us, not only because of his hearing difficulties, but because his mind would often not comprehend the words he heard.

Last summer, several months before his death, I wrote this journal entry:

“This morning after awaking, Dad came out into the hallway and saw me in the other room. “Diane?” he called. “Can you help me?”

“’Good morning, Dad,” I responded. “I’ll go get your breakfast.”

“But what he heard was silence. What he saw, was me walking away. What he felt, was rejection.

“How often does God retreat into the Heavenly realms out of our sight to prepare things on our behalf, but all we hear is silence? What we see is him walking away. What we feel is rejection.”

I was reminded of this in the wee morning hours as I scoured my Bible for something that would bring peace to my troubled soul. I wanted proof that just because I couldn’t hear God, he could still hear me; I wanted proof that just because he appeared to walk away, he was still working on my behalf; and I wanted proof that even though I felt rejected, I was still foremost on his mind.

What I found were familiar verses once again brought to life. That’s why the Bible is referred to as the Living Word of God – because at times it literally comes alive and speaks directly to our souls.

I’ll share these verses with you here because, even if your financial situation is more stable than mine at the moment, we all face fear at one time or another, for one reason or another. Fortunately, God’s promises cover them all.

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today (Matthew 6:24-34 New Living Translation).”

What hit me like a slap on the face was, “You mean, by worrying about money, by worrying about the possibility of being homeless, I’m worshiping money?” This was new to me. I thought we worshiped money by going on shopping sprees instead of tithing; by going on vacation instead of giving to a neighbor in need. But do these verses actually say that I’m a slave to money if I worry about a lack of it?

Martha Beck is a life coach who I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand she says some outlandish things that send my religious background teachings into a spasm; on the other hand she shares some truly profound truths. One thing she says that I totally agree with is that all fear is based on either the fear of lack or the fear of attack.

So, if I understand this correctly, I’ve actually been worshiping money through my fear of lack? Wow. I’m humbled. Now that I see what’s been going on, what do I do about it?

Concrete answers to my financial dilemmas eluded me in those early morning hours, but that’s okay. My mind was being transformed. I was beginning to see things in a new light. I began to realize that this is faith in action: Believing we are being cared for by unseen hands and comforted by an unheard lullaby.

We don’t have to understand the scheme of things or immediately fix all problems. Our task is to believe God is who he says he is, have faith that he will accomplish what he says he will, be authentic, love freely, forgive freely, enjoy our blessings, persevere,  and allow hope and passion to reign in our lives.

Security cannot be found in the promises of political leaders, or in our bank accounts, our investments, or even in our own hard work and ingenuity. True security lies in doing the best we can with what is presently within our control, and then trusting God with the rest.

So, regardless of the screaming insanity of my outward circumstances, I am ultimately safe. My needs will be met.  Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow; maybe not even in the way I expect; but they will be met at the right time in the right way, according to God’s grace and mercy.

So, let’s go back to those verses where Jesus says God will provide for us as he does the birds in the air and the wildflowers in the field. Obviously, the makeup of our society and culture today differs from that of Biblical times in Palestine. Therefore it’s only logical that we ask ourselves, do these promises of Jesus still hold true today? Do they apply to us as well as to those he spoke to on that long ago hillside?

I believe yes, the message is the same, even if the specifics of our lives and needs may differ from those who were able to see Jesus in person. The point is, God loves us and cares about every aspect of our lives and he knows our needs better than we do.

So why then, can we point to so many areas in our lives that are unresolved? Why do we seemingly experience one problem after another? Despite our sometimes frantic efforts to improve our situation or the situation of those we love, why do dysfunction and disease and death oftentimes prevail?

Why can we point to so many “good” people who suffer atrocities at the hands of abusers? Why aren’t they delivered? Where is God while they cry out for someone to intervene?

Other than the fact that I really don’t know, an insert in The Life Recovery Bible sheds some light on our dilemma.

“We may feel as if our life is a battlefield. We may be a prisoner in the ongoing war between good and evil. When we turn our life over to God, will he rescue us and keep us safe?

“Five hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Zechariah wrote these words: “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey – riding on a donkey’s colt. {This prophecy was fulfilled by the coming of Jesus (see Matthew 21: 4-11)}. I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon. Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles” (Zechariah 9:9-12).

“Jesus fulfilled part of these prophecies when he came the first time. He delivered us from death by shedding his own blood to seal our pardon. When he comes again as he promised, he will bring peace on earth. For now, we can take refuge in Jesus. When the war is over and Jesus is crowned King of kings, he will repay all those who are his, two mercies for every woe suffered in the war! No matter how terrible the battles we face, we can turn our life over to God and have a sure hope for the future. (The Life Recovery Bible, p. 1181)”

What I gather from these verses is that God’s provision for us is threefold:

  1. In the past: God provided eternal salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin, fully and completely, for everyone who acknowledges him as their Lord and Savior.
  1. In the present: Jesus promises that God knows our every need and that he will take care of us in this present age.  Life may not hand us the smorgasbord we think we deserve, but we are promised soup for the day.
  1. In the future: God promises that when he comes back to earth and establishes his new kingdom, that he will repay all who are his with two mercies for every trouble we suffered here on earth!

I don’t know about you, but that sounds fair to me.

So, regardless of how discouraging and hopeless our present circumstances may appear, the war is not over and the winner is yet to be crowned. I’m grateful that I will be among those in God’s army of believers and will share in the spoils of war for eternity.

If you can’t say for sure that you will be among God’s people on that day, please contact someone you know who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and is actively living for him, or contact me anytime with your questions and concerns.  But regardless of what you do, don’t let the sun set today without knowing for sure who’s side you will be found on when the final battle is fought, because, we already know who’s coming out on top!