Reposted from Jason Whitehurst
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” – C.S. Lewis
Hardships. No one volunteers to be in these ships.
No cruise line has selected “Hardship” to be their company name.
Actually, that would most likely be the worst decision in marketing history.
Think on it. If there was such a cruise line, when you went to book your next cruise, would you choose Royal Caribbean or Hardship?
No one wants to be on a Hardship ship.
Hardships involve suffering.
Hardships involve discomfort and misery.
Hardships involve having to endure affliction.
We don’t choose to be in hardships.
We choose what is easy. What is comfortable. What is pleasant and desirable.
Human nature says to choose the greatest good.
But there are times that choice is taken away by circumstances, situations, or people.
Consider the early European colonists who came to the New World in the 1500’s.
Tired of being oppressed and not having religious freedom, enduring hardships, they boarded ships and sailed across the ocean to a land they didn’t know. They left the known for the unknown.
They not only did not have religious freedom, they were persecuted if they dissented from the established state church.
They found a new home in America, a new land that seemed to be full of promise. But for many, initially they found the same hardships they thought they had left behind.
As colonies formed, official churches were established in 8 of the 13 colonies. In New England, churches doubled and served as the local government meeting houses. The colonies went to worship and to conduct local government business in the same meetinghouse.
There was no separation of church and state. The church and the government were intertwined.
So for those who came seeking freedom from persecution and the right to religious freedom, they found the same hardships.
The Puritans in New England treated dissenters from the Puritan way with extreme prejudice. Because of the church and state being intertwined, the Puritans claimed that officials were appointed by God and dissenting was an act civil disobedience, and the punishment was established through laws from local officials.
They exiled those like Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson who spoke out against Puritanism. They whipped Baptists and cropped the ears of Quakers who tried to proselytize the Puritans.
Religious persecution in New England reached the pinnacle when four Quaker missionaries were hung to death by Massachusett’s Bay Puritan magistrates.
In the 1760’s, many contend that Baptists in Virginia suffered the worst persecution in all of the colonies from the Anglican elite.
Hardships did not end with religious persecution. The mortality rate was extremely high in the early colonies.
Lack of food. Sickness. All the sufferings that came from a lack of resources because they were in a new, previously uninhabited land.
But eventually things got better. The Toleration Act was passed. Resources became more abundant. And by 1776 there was enough of a solid foundation for the founding fathers to be able to a new nation.
Ordinary people from Europe, through hardships, fulfilled an extraordinary purpose and because of their suffering, the greatest nation in the world was birthed.
As long as the earth exists, there will be suffering. The ship of hardship will always sail through the lives of people.
Whether it’s poverty, emotional calamity, famine, unemployment, losing loved ones, stressful relationships, natural disasters, war, global sex trafficking, etc., suffering will always be a part of the human condition.
The human condition is a result of the original sin of Adam and Eve. Those two messed up the human experience on earth for every individual.
Adam and Eve did not have to sin. They were tempted in the same way Jesus was.
They failed the test. Jesus did not.
While He was on the earth Jesus did not hide the fact that hardships are inevitable.
Jesus said plainly, in this world there will be tribulations.
But right before that, He said that in Him there is peace. (John 16:33)
For those who follow Christ there is peace in the middle of suffering. In the middle of hardships.
Ordinary people are prepared to do extraordinary things for God through trials. Through seasons of suffering. Through times of tribulation.
“God cannot use a man or woman greatly until he wounds them deeply.” – A.W Tozer
The apostle Paul, who endured more hardships than anyone can fathom, wrote that not only would there be hardships but went as far to say to celebrate your sufferings.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
James, the half-brother of Jesus, echoed the same sentiment.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
James and Paul both understood the same principle.
To get to where you want to go, you have to go through what you don’t want to.
But it’s worth it.