This pandemic has been hard. Have you found yourself wondering when “all this” will be over? Regardless of your situation, I’m guessing that thought has crossed your mind at least a few times during the past few months.
I was thumbing through Facebook a couple weeks ago when I ran across a quote that stuck with me and reframed my thinking about hard times.
Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard.
Choose your hard.
Obesity is hard. Being fit is hard.
Choose your hard.
Being in debt is hard. Being financially disciplined is hard. Choose your hard.
Communication is hard. Not communicating is hard. Choose your hard.
Life will never be easy.
It will always be hard.
But we can choose our hard. Pick wisely.
Yes, it might be way easier to slog through on a diet of social media, DoorDash, and Netflix. But I’m convicted that we shouldn’t be focused on merely getting by. We should be wrestling with God now, so that we are prepared for whatever comes next.
A story about wrestling with God is found in Genesis 32 (“The Night of Wrestling” in Patriarchs and Prophets is worth a read). To summarize: Jacob has no chance, no plan, and no hope as he prepares to be reunited with his brother, Esau, who—20 years later—is still bent on revenge.
It’s almost always better to choose the hard thing now.
Letting Esau have the birthright was hard. But instead of doing the hard thing, Jacob took the easy way out. And now the hard thing was coming for him, ready or not.
Alone in the desert, Jacob gets down on his knees and begs God to intervene. And God does, but in a most unconventional way. That night Jacob wrestled with God.
It has occurred to me that this pandemic—complete with social distancing—is the perfect time to get on our knees, dig deep into our Bibles, and “wrestle” with God.
In considering Jacob’s story, we can apply these principles to our own night of wrestling.
It begins with repentance and prayer. Jacob was truly sorry for his past.
Persevere when deliverance doesn’t come immediately. It might take all night.
Don’t let go until God blesses. His promises never fail.
The Bible is clear that we’re much closer to the end than to the beginning. If we look closely, there’s a lot about this pandemic that will repeat itself in the final days of earth’s history.
Inconvenienced by stores closing? One day we won’t be able to buy or sell.
Social distancing got you down? One day we’ll have to flee to the mountains.
And forget going to church. One day church will be wherever we are.
Here’s the thing about hard things: It’s almost always better to choose the hard thing now. That doesn’t mean everything then becomes easy. Saving money doesn’t make losing a job less scary. Getting up to exercise at 6:00 a.m. doesn’t mean never getting sick. Communicating well with our spouses doesn’t mean we won’t encounter crises in our marriages.
But when we choose the hard things now, we’ll be prepared for whatever comes next.
Jimmy Phillips is network marketing director for Kettering Health Network.