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Monday, April 14, 2014
Daily Devotional - Too Hard?
And the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in every work of your hand. . . . If you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with all your being. For this commandment which I command you this day is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. . . . But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your mind and in your heart, so that you can do it. —Deuteronomy 30:9–11, 14
Please make everything easy and simple for me, dear God. I don’t like to struggle, and I want constant victory without exerting any effort. Let me go on my way as I let You do everything to keep me secure.
I’ve never heard anyone pray those words, but I have heard people pray in such a way that they were asking for an easy time in life. Too many people want victory without battle, triumph without effort, and ease without labor. God’s world simply doesn’t function that way.
“It’s just too hard.” I wonder how many times I’ve heard people talk that way. I wonder how many times Joyce Meyer has talked that way. And I did. There was a time when I’d make a firm stand for following the Lord, but in my heart (and often in my mouth) were the words that “it was just so hard.”
God convicted me of negative thinking. He taught me that if I would stop looking at the hardships and obey Him, He would make a way for me. The previous verses tell us that God wants to bless us and prosper the work of our hands, but we must obey His commandments. And in verse 11, He assures us that we can do it: “For this commandment which I command you this day is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off.”
Because we spend so much time listening to the negatives and figuring out what can go wrong, too often we forget the promise that His will is not too difficult for us. Instead, it may help if you think of the obvious difficulties as blessings from God.
For instance, take encouragement from Joseph. After he spent years in Egypt and saved the lives of his family in Canaan, his brothers were afraid of him. They had hated him, plotted to kill him, and sold him into slavery. After their father, Jacob, died, they expected Joseph to punish them. He could have done that and groaned about his hard life—and his life had not been easy. Not only was he sold as a slave by his brothers, but he had been wrongly imprisoned and could have been put to death if God hadn’t been with him.
Instead of saying, “Life is so hard,” Joseph said, “As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day” (Genesis 50:20). He understood how God works in human lives.
Joseph didn’t look at the hardships; he looked at the opportunities. Joseph didn’t listen to the whispering campaign of his enemy; he turned his ears to the encouraging words of his God. In no place do we read of him complaining. He saw everything that happened to him as God’s loving hand upon him.
I wrote the words loving hand even though it may not always seem that way. And that’s where the devil sometimes creeps in to say, “If God loves you so much, why are you in this mess?”
The best answer I can give is to repeat the words of Paul the great apostle: “Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5).
God never promises an easy life, but He does promise a blessed life.
God of love and compassion, please forgive me for complaining about life being too hard. Forgive me for wanting things to be easy. Lead me wherever You want me to go and, in the name of Jesus, I plead that You will help me rejoice all the way—even in the midst of the problems, because You will be there to help me solve them. Amen.