Do hard things. In fact, don’t just do hard things, go after them.
This weekend, my son and I ran the Warrior Dash. For those unfamiliar, the Warrior Dash is an obstacle course race (OCR) in which you run a 5k and navigate a bunch of obstacles along the way. We ran trails, scaled walls, crawled through tunnels, scampered through the mud, climbed ropes, bear crawled under barbed wire, leapt fire and worked pretty hard. I have the aching muscles to prove it.
A reasonable question is “why?” Why deliberately torture your body and pay money to do it?
I had a few good reasons. I like to do cool stuff with my son. Obstacles are fun. We got sweet swag like a fuzzy viking helmet and Warrior Dash t-shirt. But, the biggest reason is that it would be hard.
What kind of reason is that, right?
If you ask people what has led to the greatest growth in their life, most will tell you about some difficult experience or period in their life. It forced them to learn some hard lessons. It pushed them to pray. It drove them to the Bible. They had to learn to ask for help and depend on others. Truths about God went from theory to life giving reality. That is what hard things do. They grow us.
That’s why James 1:2-4 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Hard things are joyous things because hard things make you mature.
However, most of us do everything we can to avoid hard things. We want easy. We want convenient. We want trouble-free, stress free. I understand that. No one is going to go looking for persecution or trials or tragedy. But maybe, we should look for some hard things.
Choosing some hard things will develop character in you.
Choosing some hard things will teach you to trust God.
Choosing some hard things will force you to embrace community.
Choosing some hard things will give you compassion for the hard things others face.
Choosing some hard things will instill discipline in you.
Choosing some hard things will give you confidence for the future.
Choosing some hard things will prepare you for the hard things beyond your choosing.
Living for Jesus Christ is in itself an intentional choice to do the hard thing. That usually isn’t advertised in our gospel presentations, is it? We are given the gospel of “trust Jesus for a happy life.” Guess what? Jesus didn’t offer that gospel. He said that in this life you will have trouble. He said that pursuing him meant self denial, sacrifice and conforming your life to his.
Are you ready for hardship? It will come. Spiritual growth is largely about preparation for trouble. Choose some hard things and get ready. Choose to get into shape rather than buying bigger pants. Choose to learn something new rather than leaning on the past. Choose to study your bible and pray daily rather than watching one television show. Choose to serve somebody rather than just caring for yourself. Choose to build something or cook something rather than running to the store to buy it. Choose to use some of your resources to further God’s kingdom rather than just expanding your own. Even choose to run an OCR like the Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder or Spartan Race.
Do some hard things. It’s worth it.