My daughter made a comment one morning that made me think about the effect of disappointments and difficulties in our lives. She asked me if I knew that Hitler was a really good artist (I hadn’t been aware of that). She went on to say that he had not been accepted at an art school and wondered if things would have turned out differently for him and for the world if he had been. I don’t know what kind of impact that rejection had on him, or if that had any bearing on the cruel dictatorship that would ensue later in his life, but I do know that we all have choices to make in how we respond to hard things that come our way. I think of great men like Abraham Lincoln who didn’t succumb to the many failures that befell him, but went on to become a history changing leader, and I recognize that my circumstances do not have to determine the outcome for me.
With the realization that there is a God who not only created this world, but who also has a purpose unfolding in it, there is all the more reason not to be discouraged by difficulties. When the Israelites were in the throes of discouraging circumstances (that they had even brought upon themselves), God proclaimed to them these words of encouragement: “I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). We find further encouragement in verses like Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4 and many others. Troubles not only do not have to be detrimental to us, but they can actually make us better for having faced them.
Is life hard right now? What will you do about it? You have a choice in how it will affect you. More than that, will you entrust your life to the One who wants you to not only impact this world (which one day will be no more), but have bearing on eternity as well? The choice is up to you.