Today as my daughter neared the end of her 45 minute morning run she reported to me that she was, “hungry, thirsty, and sweaty.” Pedaling alongside her I answered back, “That’s a good way to be at the end of a run.” I found myself envious of her at that moment and thought to myself, “Man, I miss that.” For those who are unaware, I’ve been nursing a bum heel for what seems like forever. In fact, the last bit of real training I did was in the fall of 2018. It’s been a long time since I’ve been famished after a workout or since I’ve felt the classic achiness in my legs after a really hard run. I miss the challenge of a speed workout and the mental and physical exertion of pushing the pace in the midst of discomfort. I even miss the tiredness in my legs after a long run. And why do I miss all this you might ask? Because the hard is what makes it good.
I firmly believe that anything worth anything is going to be hard…and worthy of effort. We might be tempted to think this is not truly what we want or how we really want life to be. But why would we want it to be otherwise? The true beauty of a thing- the true glory- is the effort required to try. Think about it: Anything you have ever truly valued has taken a good measure of hard work. Be it an academic or athletic goal or a relationship of any kind, we value most what we work the hardest for. Indeed, the hard is what makes it good.
I also believe that this is how God meant it to be, how it needed to be. Though God had promised the land of Cannan to the Israelites, they had to endure the hardness of battle to obtain it. Even before the Fall, Adam was given work and responsibilities which required his effort- and this was good! And though sin and its effects have undoubtedly riddled our lives with suffering and trials which add to the hardness of life, the goodness of redemption that comes only from God is magnified all the more. As stated in Isaiah 61:3, He gives us beauty for ashes.
Yet, in spite of this knowledge our natural bent is not to embrace the hardness. Rather, we’re tempted to tap the breaks or check out when the going gets rough. As a runner I try to consciously embrace the pain and welcome the uncomfortable- but just as in everyday life, this is a difficult task to execute! There are moments in both life and racing when I find myself relenting. But praise God for His continuous reminder that we are not in the hard alone. Because while the hard is good, we were never meant to shoulder it solo. Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). What a Savior we have, for he knows better than anyone that the hard is necessary for the good.
Whatever you’re facing this week- be it the hardness of singleness, marriage, parenting, work, illness, or any other matter- be encouraged that your labor is not in vain. The hard that is being required of you is serving a purpose: your sanctification and God’s glory. For this may we continue to labor as we embrace the goodness of the hard.