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I was driving to work but my mind wasn’t on the road. I was completely immersed in the conversation I was having with my brother. We had been talking for some time and I was filling him in on what was going on in my life. The school where I worked was closing and many families were affected. Teachers were losing their jobs. Children would need to transfer to a different school. Not only were people disappointed and angry, but families’ lives were changing drastically. Life was being shaken for a lot of different people. What was happening didn’t seem to be at all right or fair and, worst of all, it was completely out of my control.

I tried to conclude the conversation by saying, “I’m just going through a really bad time.” Glenn hesitated, took a deep breath, and said these words: “Jeanne, this is not a bad time, this is a hard time. And hard times are not bad times.

Wow. Now that’s an innovative thought. You mean “hard” doesn’t equate with “bad”? That doesn’t sound like a red, white, and blue American thought to me! Aren’t we supposed to be rich and strong and happy and blessed? Aren’t we God’s favorites? Isn’t life supposed to be one big chorus of ‘And They Lived Happily Ever After’?

It’s so easy to think that way. But that’s not what the Bible teaches. And that’s not the way it was for our Bible “heroes”. Take a look at Joseph.

Daniel.

Esther.

Gideon.

Ruth.

Nope. Nothing easy about their lives.

What do you think of when you read those names?

I know that scripture said of Joseph,  “the Lord was with him,” even in the middle of really hard situations. After years of hard times, Joseph was raised up to be second only to Pharaoh. But it took years.

God delivered Daniel out of a dangerous den of devourers.

Although Esther was an exiled orphan, God raised her up to a powerful position in Persia and used her to rescue her race.

Gideon was grinding grain instead of grapes, hiding from his enemies when the Lord challenged him to change into the champion he truly was called to be.

Ruth was a rejected refugee and the Lord handpicked her to become Boaz’s  beloved bride.

Yet on the way to becoming this delivered one, this rescuer, this champion and this bride, these Bible characters walked through some really hard days. Days where they could have whined and complained and talked on the phone a lot. Actually, I imagine they did do some of that, because they were human. . . but they persisted through the hard times. They kept on walking. They endured. Even though it was hard. They stayed connected to their God and allowed themselves to be used by Him. And turned out becoming Bible heroes.

I don’t know what’s happening in your life right now. Could be any number of things. “Life is hard” can manifest itself in many ways.  Health issues. Lack of employment. Relationships. Maybe you have teenagers! Or toddlers! Or both! (I’ll pray for you.)

I read a story by Phillip Gulley about a guy who planted a yard full of oak trees but never watered them. He said if you watered them, it made them “sissy trees” and they’d never be strong. That if their roots were forced to go in search of water, that would make stronger trees in the long run.

Gulley is a fabulous storyteller and he concludes the tale by telling how he likes to pray over his sons after they’ve fallen asleep at night. His prayers have changed from “Lord, spare them from hardship,” instead to a prayer that their roots would grow deep and draw strength from the eternal God.

I agree with that kind of prayer. Because life is hard. And we must stay connected to our eternal God. We draw our very life from Him. The same God who walked with those Bible characters walks with you and me today. Our roots can go down deep into the bedrock truth of that eternal God and find strength and nourishment there.

Hard times are not bad times, friend. They’re when our roots go down deep into the eternal God.

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