Why is Life Hard? – A Biblical Counseling Basic

Romans828Why is Life Hard?
(A biblical counseling basic)

Over the years that I’ve been a biblical counselor I’ve had the “why is life hard question” asked of me a number of times. The context is usually the person is going through some significant trial and/or struggling to change a circumstance they have little control of.

The answer is simply sin and The Fall.

When Adam fell, life became hard; not only for Adam and Eve but for every person that came after (Gen. 3:16-19).

I think this truth is empirically obvious. Natural disasters, wars, rumors of wars, starvation, disease, conflicts of every sort since man could record history, point to a deeply flawed planet populated by deeply flawed people. No exceptions.

The fact that our bodies start breaking down the minute after we are born is further proof that everything breaks down over time and is corrupted in some way (Rom. 8:20-22).

For example, at the time of this writing I still face two surgeries out of the four recommended. The doctors tell me that I have genetic bone problems in my feet and knees and that over time the bone structure has broken down to the point where I need “hardware” to firm up bone structure or replace bone entirely. While I can contribute to my pain with a poor diet the basic issue (genetic) is the result of The Fall.

I tell the people who ask me the question “why is life hard” that we live in a sin cursed world and because we do, things happen to us that we are not directly responsible for. We get cancer, have accidents, catch colds and at times our home may burn down because of a lightning strike. We live in a broken world despite its beauty. If you think about it you will realize there is much in life beyond our control.

I further tell the person we are sinners; including us who know Jesus as Savior and Lord. We cannot escape the fact we sin (1 John 1:8) against God and others. Furthermore, others sin against us.

The consequences of our sin and of others sin makes life hard.

People ask the “why is life hard” question because they are tired and/or because they have lost hope. If they are Christians they have lost sight of the Savior and of the Gospel.

The gospel brings hope. The gospel brings hope because it already solves our biggest problem–the problem of sin. While we still sin, we fight forgiven sin if we belong to Christ.  Jesus paid the price for all of our sins: past, present and the ones we have not gotten around to yet.

Thinking about that should bring us hope. Our suffering is temporary. Christ will return one day and make all things new, including the broken creation.

Once more, we are no longer slaves to sin and are instead slaves to righteousness in Christ. Even in the midst of a severe trial we bear testimony to a risen Savior who loves us and is with us in every trial.

In Christ we have a new identity and a new power to resist sin (Rom. 6:14) which makes change not only possible but inevitable if we seek to apply change from the inside out (Eph. 4:22-24). The principles of change apply even in the midst of great suffering. In fact, it is in the midst of great suffering that the greatest change is possible.

In Christ we come to realize that there are no accidents and nothing is beyond our heavenly Father’s control. It is not a cliché to say that… “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28, ESV

Note that the passage does not say all things are good; only that all things work for good for those called according to His purpose. That is hope for those that take the time to contemplate how God sees beyond our circumstances.

Why is life hard? Answer: Sin and the consequences of it.

Where can hope be found? Answer: In Jesus who is the gospel and its chief messenger. Our goal is to apply the gospel in our sufferings and trials.

Roses Have Thorns, But Not Always

Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, And the end of joy may be grief. (Proverbs 14:13)

In the lobby of my church a sudden outburst of laughing will pound through my office walls.  At times I will look out just to see what is so funny.  And it is funny, what I see.  There may be two or maybe ten who are all enjoying a good story or the end of some tease.  But I know these people.  There is the one who is still recovering from surgery and has burdens for her family and their faith.  There is the one whose spouse is a broken person who brings so many burdens into the home and lives of the family.  There is that person whose job is currently up in the air and the reality of the unknown is upon him.  I see the parents laughing who has a wayward child and they are very concerned.

If I wanted to stop any of that laughter all I would need to do is pull one of them aside and inquire as to how is the situation, the burden.  Laughing eyes will reflect the burden and pain that is just below the surface.  Tears or anguished faces will appear and a softer, heavier voice will speak.

For all of us there are times of great laughter that hide the pain we suffer within.  It is the reality of living in this broken, sinful age.  We will hold in our arms a small baby and be filled with joy never knowing that the end will be grief.  We will walk down an aisle to marry only for the end to be grief.  We will start out our life in college and in the end is grief.

We must never forget that many things in this life bring joy.  And we can enjoy them as such.  But like the thorns of the rose so too do all things bringing joy.  So we hold things that belong to this age lightly.  Rejoicing in the times of joy and weeping with those who weep in grief.  We gather together on Sunday to hold up fists of rebellion to the gods of this age as we declare by faith that God the Father “. . . raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21)

Jesus tells us that we will never taste the fullness of death, called the second death, if our hope is in Him alone.  Peter tells us we are kept safe by God’s power so that even if we have grief and sorrow we shall never be lost.  Paul tells us that by the great love of our heavenly Father we were forgiven and raised up with Jesus Christ in the heavenly places all because we are in union with His Son.

I need to remember this more each day.

And so do you.

This is a cross post from www.matthenry.wordpress.com