Life Is Difficult…

Often, as I look at the pain of people around me, it almost moves me to tears. People who have suffered great loss. People whose future is closing in without resembling the one about which they’d dreamed. People who daily face the risk of losing the person they love the most. People who already have. As I see these great pains, I am reminded that life is difficult.

Life is difficult. That statement is self-evident. Yet we work in every way to avoid believing or accepting that life is difficult. Has it ever occurred to you the absurdity of saying things like, “Life stinks” or “Life is a bummer”? If you actually understand that it is hard, then saying “life is hard” is as sensible as saying, “water is sure wet” or “circles are really round.” Why do we comment on the difficulty of life so consistently?

I think it is because we expect that it should be easy. Immersed in a life of pain, we find the difficulty hard to grasp just as we find the quick movement of time difficult to understand. Lewis said we suffer the latter because we were not made to dwell within the limits of time. I like that. And I think that the reason we find the difficulty of life remarkable is due to the fact that we were not made to live in a fallen, messed up world. We were designed for paradise.

But the reality is that we don’t live in Eden. And we would be well-served to accept that reality because in avoiding the truth of life’s difficult nature, we actually penalize ourselves further. The difficulty of life brings responsibilities that cannot be ignored. Ignoring them by engaging in denial makes things all the worse. Thus, we viciously spin in the proverbial circle. M. Scott Peck, a popular psychologist and author began his most well-known work with words that sum this thought up well:

Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. ~M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled

Accepting the difficulty of life should not cause us to stop striving to make it more pleasant. If you live in a cold climate, you don’t resign yourself to being cold. You engage yourself in building, insulating, and heating a dwelling to limit your exposure to the cold. Should we not do that for one another, when it comes to life’s difficulties?

The statement from John Watson makes more and more sense every day.

Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle. ~John Watson


2 thoughts on “Life Is Difficult…

  1. Very good points.

    I think another reason we make that statement is that, for many of us, life doesn’t really start out as difficult. When we’re kids life is fairly simple. We get up, we go through our day, we’re loved, we go to bed, we start over again. Even when we start school for a while this insulation continues. The problems seem more like speed bumps than difficulties. But as we become more aware of the world around us and how those things affect us and those we love, life becomes difficult.

    I often say to friends and family “remember when life was easy?” and the usual response is a nod and “uh huh.”

    What makes it even more interesting is, when you face a huge tragedy, trama or fear, suddenly everything that came before was a lot easier, it seems. Not only does time heal wounds (not all wounds, I might add) but it also makes us forgetful. So that horror you experienced a year ago doesn’t seem as bad as the one you currently face.

    Keeping in mind that life is difficult for everyone makes it easier to help someone else. I found a $50 bill on the ground yesterday at Wal-Mart, I had just spoken to the elderly woman who dropped it, I knew she couldn’t afford to lose that $50 (not that her wealth would have made any difference in my keeping it). She couldn’t believe I caught up with her and gave her the money back. Think how much stress and worry I saved her that afternoon…what if we all did that every day? Held a door open? Hugged someone who’s grieving? Just touched an arm and said hello…wow.

  2. I think that part of the reason that sufferings “fade” is because it’s easy to remember the circumstances of your trial, but relatively harder to remember what you were like in that situation. So for example, I remember the times I got sick and what the symptoms were like, but don’t remember so much about all the doubts, worries, and frustrations that went along with it. Those were the things that made the struggle into a crisis, but you don’t remember them so much. Er, at least I don’t.

    I like when you say “Accepting the difficulty of life should not cause us to stop striving to make it more pleasant.” I think one of the blessings of the Gospel is that we can know that our selves and our surroundings are being bettered when we suffer faithfully. Let this mind be in you– Jesus was faithful in His suffering, and He saved the world. That’s one of the reasons why I have a generally optimistic outlook on world events and history– there’s been so much suffering by God’s people, there’s a lot of resurrection to come.

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