Question: "Why is life so hard?"
Answer: Life IS hard. It is harder for some than for others, but we all must cope with being imperfect people in an imperfect world. Accidents, disasters, illness, heartache, loss—the ways that the human heart can suffer are myriad. Even Jesus agreed that life is hard, but He didn’t stop there. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Life was never supposed to be hard. When God created the world and placed the first man and woman in it, life was perfect (Genesis 1–2). Bodies were perfect. The temperature was perfect. The first couple’s relationship was perfect, and they had everything they needed or wanted. They even had the presence of God with them. They lived in paradise.
Enter sin (Genesis 3). When Adam and Eve chose their own way over God’s, everything changed. Perfection was marred, and life became hard. As a result of humanity’s disobedience, God cursed the perfect world He had made so that it turned on the man and woman. Thistles sprouted where flower beds had been. Food was no longer available everywhere they looked. They must now forage, plant, struggle, and reap in order to survive. Sin ruined everything. Now “the whole creation groans” (Romans 8:22, NAS), and we groan with it.
Sin still affects our world, and life is still hard. Sin has a ripple effect that carries its destruction to others. Consider this example: a man gets drunk. That’s one sin (Proverbs 20:1). He comes home and beats his wife and children: more sin. His wife suffers a broken nose that will cause her difficulties for the rest of her life. The children are so traumatized that they run away, eventually getting involved in drugs and prostitution. More sin. One son gets in his car and, under the influence of drugs, ignores a stop sign and slams into a bus, killing six people. Their families will now grieve the loss for the rest of their lives, and others will be affected by their pain in various ways. The fallout from one sin continues to spread, impacting countless other people who then impact other people, and the legacy goes on. That’s only one sin. Multiply that by tens of millions, and we start to understand why the world is so messed up and life is so hard.
Another reason life is so hard is that this is not our final home. Those who belong to Jesus are here on visitor’s passes. We became citizens of another kingdom the moment God adopted us into His family (John 1:12). We are ambassadors, here on assignment for our Father, the King of kings (2 Corinthians 5:20). We’re not supposed to feel at home in this world. We don’t belong here, so it’s only natural that we often feel like aliens and strangers (Hebrews 11:13). Life is hard many times because those who’ve been redeemed and transformed by Jesus Christ live with a deep yearning to go home (2 Corinthians 5:17). But as obedient children we remain faithful to our assignments until our Father calls for us.
When life is hard, it is a reminder that this world is not our final destination. As difficult as circumstances may be, Paul called them “light and momentary troubles” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Paul and many of the first-century Christians knew how hard life was in ways that most of us never will (2 Corinthians 11:23–29). Some of their struggles are showcased in Hebrews 11, a chapter that reminds us that, as hard as our lives are, many have it worse.
As we grow through troubles, we develop the character of Christ—who also struggled much during His time on earth (Isaiah 53:3). His example of selflessness, endurance, and trust in God is an example to us: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).
Life is hard, but Christ is our advocate (1 John 2:1), our intercessor who pleads our case to the Father. He knows what it feels like to struggle through difficulty, depression, fear, heartache, and the host of human situations that make life so hard (Hebrews 4:15). Life is hard, but the Holy Spirit is our comforter who helps us and stays with us forever (John 14:16).
Life is hard, but it is brief. Compared to eternity, our earthly lives are like a mist that vanishes with the morning sun (James 4:14). What we do during this time on earth affects the rest of eternity. We can grow bitter, hard, and waste our struggles. Or we can endure (James 1:2–4), grow, learn faith, develop compassion for others who are struggling, and wait for our final reward. At that time, we will hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord!” (Matthew 25:21)