Navigating Through the Hard Places of Life

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Just as I was finishing up supper one evening, I received a phone call from our youngest daughter. Her opening line to the conversation was, “Let me tell you what Addy did!” That left a world of possibilities open, for she was a child that always moved from one adventure to another. With no idea what Jessica was about to report but with my mind prepared for almost anything, she proceeded to tell me that while they were in a large building supply store she heard Addy say, “Mama this is soft!” Jessica looked and found Addy with her arm rammed down in a roll of fiberglass insulation. If you have dealt with that material before you understand that coming into skin contact with it can produce a great deal of discomfort. It is true that it is soft initially but the after effects can be quite undesirable. Addy was only seven years old at the time and thankfully with her being several years older now she uses better judgment. William Knudson was right when he said, “Experience is knowing a lot of things you shouldn’t do.”

Sometimes the discomfort of life is self induced through our immature choices, but at other times we have to come up through some hard places that we have no say-so in. We can choose to foolishly put our arm into a roll of insulation and suffer the scratchy consequences of it, but at other times the unfairness of life forces us to deal with hardships not of our own doing.

As much as I enjoy gardening it is often filled with many challenges. Sometimes there are late cold snaps to deal with, followed by heat and dry weather, and then, as it has been in recent weeks, an abundance of water in a short amount of time. It requires utilizing a variety of tactics to successfully overcome the challenges. After working so hard to try to keep my vegetables growing as healthily as possible, I am amazed when I see plants coming up on their own and thriving in unexpected places and poor growing conditions. Somehow they are able to endure in the hard places.

Over many years as a pastor I have dealt with people in all sorts of situations in life. Some of them, like those resilient plants that come up and grow in what appears to be unhealthy conditions, found themselves coming through the hard places out of no choice or fault of their own. During such times they had to make a choice to either allow themselves to learn, grown, and become productive as they worked through their hardships, or give in to self-pity and give up on experiencing a better life.

In Daniel 3 the Bible preserves the story of three young Hebrew men who came up through a hard place with their faith in tact and their determination to stay true to God remaining strong. When King Nebuchadnezzar made a large image of gold that all in the land were required to bow down to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to choose to either comply and transgress God’s command, or refuse the king’s demand and be thrown into a blazing furnace. How did they respond? They chose to remain true to God regardless of the threat: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18, New International Version).

As it turned out, those three young men were thrown into the fiery furnace as threatened, but God spared them in an amazing way. What a great reminder that when we come through the hard places, it pays to stay true to God. He knows how to bring good from the worst of situations and He will enable us to navigate victoriously through the hard places of life.