Around a year ago (give or take a few months), I took this online class.
It was called Do Hard Things University, and it was awesome. I originally took the course in hopes of learning about just that — doing hard things — through teaching and class time. But I discovered something just as amazing: a community of like-minded young people.
I wasn’t alone!
There were more people out there who didn’t want to waste their youth! Far more people than I had ever imagined. Through this class, I met teenagers who were raising money to build wells in third-world countries, writing and publishing books, pursuing Bible smuggling, and so much more! It was both challenging and encouraging.
However, soon I noticed that a few other students were asking the same question I was:
Can sickness be my hard thing?
You see, a lot of the last year before taking the class I had simply spent in survival mode. Most of it I had spent too sick to get out of bed, in too much physical pain to do all the things I wanted to, unable to think clearly enough to even accomplish my school. And that was hard enough. When I saw all of these other teenagers doing amazing things for God… well, it was easy to get discouraged and wonder what in the world I could do in my condition. Or if I was somehow not doing enough by simply just fighting to do the basic everyday things.
I mean, most people my age were doing school work, or chores, or hanging out with friends. But I couldn’t in the same way. Those simple things in and of themselves were hard! So was it okay that that was all I could do? Was it okay if simply functioning was my ‘hard thing’?
Some hard things we choose, and others are forced on us. And that’s okay! God gives us the hard things we choose. They are gifts. We couldn’t do them without Him, without Him giving us the ability to do them. And guess what? Things like long-term sickness are also hard things God gives us. If that’s all He has for us right now, that’s enough.
It’s okay to have mercy on ourselves. If God has given you a hard thing that isn’t glorious, and doesn’t seem to accomplish anything… that’s okay. It’s enough. You’re not wasting your years, and it isn’t accomplishing nothing. It’s accomplishing exactly what God wants it to (even if we can’t see what that is yet). Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV) says,
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
God’s purpose will be accomplished. He has a plan. And if His plan is for us to glorify Him through sickness, then that’s enough. We’re not failing, we’re doing exactly what He wants us to do. So yes, sickness can be my hard thing or your hard thing, if that’s what God has chosen.
This is so difficult, since my illness has caused me a lot of trauma. It’s so hard to wake up some mornings, especially when I’m sore and I feel like parts of my body are being blasted with a blowtorch. But I do agree. How can we make sickness our hard thing, though? (Forgive me if this question was answered in the article)
That’s a good question! I would think that it looks slightly different for each person, but in my article I really just meant suffering well… even if all we can do it wake up in the morning, then we do that to our best ability for God’s glory. 🙂
That’s interesting. I can still function day-to-day (mostly), but I am in pain often and my illness also aggravates my emotional (and spiritual) struggles. I guess that maybe keeping my head around my family and friends would be a hard thing I could do in this instance?
I would definitely think that that could be your hard thing. Often times in my own life I think that the mental, emotional, and spiritual battles caused by sickness are even harder than the physical things. 🙂 Keep hanging in there! 🙂
Thank you ever so much for this encouragement, Sara! For the past few years of my life I’ve struggled with nearly daily headaches/migraines and fatigue, and as you said in your article:
“…in survival mode. Most of it I had spent too sick to get out of bed, in too much physical pain to do all the things I wanted to, unable to think clearly enough to even accomplish my school. And that was hard enough. When I saw all of these other teenagers doing amazing things for God… well, it was easy to get discouraged and wonder what in the world I could do in my condition. Or if I was somehow not doing enough by simply just fighting to do the basic everyday things.”
Oh yes. That completely sums up the inward struggle I’ve had. But this is my cross – my hard thing. And Jesus is going to use it for the good one day! The trial of our faith produces patience and makes us more like Him!
Once again thank you for sharing. <3
I’m so so glad that this article encouraged you! Yes, exactly! God is making diamonds out of us in our trials. In the fire, He’s purifying us like gold 🙂 Keep fighting!
Ugh, migraines are so awful. My illness causes migraines, sometimes every 4-5 weeks. I know how you feel :X
This is exactly right Sara! And just so you know, you are doing some really tough stuff, and you’re doing it well! Keep walking where God leads you!
Thank you so much Courtney! Your encouragement is very appreciated. 🙂
I definitely agree! Sometimes, we don’t always choose hard things because God allows them to “choose” us. But we can get through those hard things if we stay close to Him! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Sara!
Yes! Like Courtney’s article a bit ago 🙂 Thank you for reading!
I really appreciated this post – because I suspect for a lot of us, our hard things are forced upon us – but we can choose how to respond to them, and we can know that God will use them, even if all we can do is survive through them. 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed this! Yes, exactly. So true. We get to choose how go respond to things, even if we can’t choose those things in the first place.
This is a really encouraging post! I have an autoimmune disease and I basically have to take medications to keep me alive. The past 2 1/2 years I have struggled to accept that God has allowed me to have health problems. Only recently have I started to realize it’s for a reason.
I’m so glad it encouraged you! Aw, I know that’s so hard. You’re right though- God does give us these things for a reason. (easier said than accepted 😉 ) But He isn’t wasting our pain, tears, or suffering.