Something to think about

Who Decides What is Hard?

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had …” Romans 15:5 (NIV)

We often hear on the news and social media the stories people share of the hard things they are going through. I have to admit that sometimes I want to roll my eyes at what people say is “hard.”

But recently, God reminded me of an experience I had when my family was stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana. My husband was part of the invasion into Iraq, and we didn’t know when he would return home. We didn’t know if he would return home.

I was in a leadership position for a women’s ministry that serves military spouses. One morning, I was in the front yard with our daughters when my phone rang. When I answered, a soft voice on the other end said, “Hi, Tracy. You don’t know me. My name is Susan. I don’t know who else to call, but I need prayer.”

I responded, “Yes, of course, any time! How can I pray for you?”

She said, “We just moved here, and I know many husbands are deployed to Iraq. My husband just left for two weeks’ Temporary Duty to the Pentagon. I have a 2-year-old and a newborn, and I’m really nervous.”

Immediately, I thought, Her husband is gone for only two weeks — he’s still in the U.S. — and no one is shooting at him. Really?! I haven’t even talked to my husband in almost three months! 

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit got a hold of my mouth before I could say anything insensitive or unkind. Then the Holy Spirit got a hold of my heart. What this woman was experiencing was hard! Two weeks by herself in a new place with a 2-year-old and a newborn — that’s certainly hard.

What’s considered “hard” in our lives isn’t up for comparison.

It’s not up to me to decide what’s hard. I just need to love others through their hard.

Just as Romans 15:5 says, we are to have the same “attitude of mind” toward others that Christ has toward us — one of grace, love and understanding. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had …” (Romans 15:5)

So how can I have an attitude like Jesus toward other people? The key is to ask God. We can depend on God to provide; He is faithful.

No matter what we’re all going through, our current situations may very well be hard — they’re just hard in different ways. The situation I deem easy — our college-aged daughter coming home from school during the pandemic to live with us temporarily — is hard for the single mother who now has her children home with no childcare and can’t go to work. That’s hard … but we can’t dwell on the hard. We can’t allow all our focus to be on the hard. But we can love and encourage one another through the hard … and, in fact, that’s exactly what we’re called to do.

Heavenly Father, please open my eyes to the challenges others around me are experiencing. Give me a Christ-like attitude toward them and a desire to love them well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

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Lorraine here with a personal footnote: I have a next-door neighbor with twin daughters, age two. Consider how “hard” it must be for her in her trailer home. Fortunately, they have a large yard but this extreme heat forces us to spend time in our air-conditioned rooms. I have neighbors up and down the street who seldom leave their trailer or motorhome. They have needs and I feel helpless to help. I know they think of me but, likewise, they feel helpless to help. In this upside-down world, we need to pray for God’s intervention…

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