Difficult tasks often have easy beginnings. It is easy to learn the first few pages of a new piano piece when the melodies were familiar, the chords simple, and the accidentals few. It is easy to run the first mile of a marathon surrounded by the contagious energy of a hundred other runners. It is easy to pass the first exam when there were only three chapters to review and fifty words to memorize.
But few worthwhile accomplishments stay easy for long. A thick jungle of chords and octaves greets us on page four, accompanied by an awkward glissando. We encounter a twisted ankle and side cramp around the second mile marker. We discover that we will have to break at least one scientific law in order to finish our final exam on time. Life may start out easy—we aren’t expected to climb mountains or fly airplanes from infancy—but life certainly does not stay that way.
When the going gets tough, it is easy to give up. Especially in our excuse-saturated culture, it can be easy to pull the “it’s too hard” card too often, too quickly, too instinctively. Who can be expected to memorize a hundred-page concerto anyway? Or to actually run a marathon without dying like Pheidippides*? Or to even try to study for an exam that would, we feel, surely stump Einstein himself?
Although we shouldn’t necessarily push through every single obstacle, we should not interpret every hardship as a reason to give up. Anything worth pursuing is worth fighting for, and hard work is a normal part of the equation. In other words, hardship should not surprise us. It is part of fighting the good fight, of running the race set before us. Instead of fleeing from every potential difficulty, may we pray for hearts of faith that look hardship in the eye and ask, Is any thing too hard for the LORD? (Genesis 18:14)
*The legendary Greek runner from whose story we get the name Marathon