Comments on the book by James MacDonald
I’ve been reading through a really good book called When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald. The funny thing is, I didn’t even want to read it at first. My husband and I joked about getting the sequel, When Life Is Easy. But I am really glad I did read it. MacDonald has amazing compassion, but holds us accountable.
There is a part in chapter 4 that hugely impacted me so that’s what I’ll write about today. How do we get from a great relationship with God to making terrible decisions and disowning our Lord? It’s a shorter route than I realized, and it was a rude awakening that I’ve made it pretty far down the path at times of my life.
So, enter the trial, that one trial that just never seems to end and is so unfair. Let a month pass, a year, a decade…..here’s what can happen.
Trials CAN Lead to Discouragement.
Ok, so this one seems kind of common sense, doesn’t it. Aren’t we all in this place here and there? We can take step one to destruction on many days. MacDonald explains that many factors can go into us becoming discouraged. But, often it’s a faulty way of thinking, like blaming others, having a pity party, denial or just refusing to focus on God’s truths.
Discouragement Leads to Dislocation.
Now to me, this is something I’ve definitely overlooked. I get discouragement and why we need to keep our hearts and minds correctly focused on God. I’ve also noticed I can get discouraged and eventually feel better and not think that much about it. MacDonald explains that trials feel like pressure on us. God is getting our attention and allows some pressure that could end up causing us a slight limp or discomfort. BUT, and here’s the key, HE WILL EQUIP US TO BEAR UP UNDER THE WEIGHT. If we remain, and stay faithful, it’s possible it would not even be that difficult. Our main job is looking to Him and remaining where He puts us until He says we’re done. So, we have no idea how long it will last. It hurts. We want out. If we choose to squirm and crawl out….the pressure is going to cause major pain and serious injury (dislocation), perhaps that we will never recover from. So this step is caused by our desire to escape, be free of the trial and solve it ourselves. All that we accomplish is setting ourselves up for another time of this trial again. We didn’t learn our lesson. We didn’t overcome with God’s strength. We opted out and looped back around to have to do it again, maybe with a permanent added injury.
I would say I’ve been through this step at times too. I’ve given up on the right way and just forced my way out of a hard situation. Perhaps it was turning to lying or cheating, or failing someone we could have supported. Bursting out angrily and hurting someone, taking what may seem the easy way out but finding we’re left with a relationship that can’t seem to be repaired or a terribly guilty conscience.
Dislocation CAN Lead to Bitterness.
I wish I would have never gotten to this step, but, I have. Perhaps you have too. For me, bitterness is that turning point of I’m not listening to God anymore, I’m listening to me. I know He’s perfect but I feel this instance may be the first time He has messed up. I stop listening to wise friends and wallow in my own anger. Lines get blurred and I don’t care as much if I cross them. I am not getting what I feel I deserve. And I’m sick of it. Time for me to be in charge. The crazy thing is, you may even have an ok attitude. But, if you’re going with your plans and purposely skipping God’s….you’re still bitter.
Bitterness Leads to Profane Living.
This is where you tell yourself you don’t want God, you don’t like Him, and you’re fine with trying to undermine Him and His plans. The things you try not to do, you now purposely enjoy. You take His name in vain, refuse to pray or listen. You mock Him when able. You subject yourself to things that you know are bad for you. It’s being unfaithful to God and acting as if He means nothing to you. You can still get back to where you should be. But, you’re allowing your heart to be hardened, even hoping it will, which then leads to the final step.
Profane Living Leads to Disqualification.
Perhaps you thought at some point you could still come back to God, and He does give us SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES. But, eventually, it’s not your choice any more. “One day, I’ll make things right. One day, I’ll think about eternity. One day, I’ll tell Him I’m sorry for hating Him all my life.” If there’s still a soft part of our hearts, we have hope. We can still respond to God. But, as our hearts become harder and harder, we hear Him less and eventually our heart is just a rock that would need a miracle to change. MacDonald brings up the sorrow Esau felt after selling his very birthright for a meal. Hebrews 12:17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. He did want to seek it, but it was too late. And unless we turn to God before this point, this is where our downward spiral can also end.
Repent. Submit to God no matter how difficult or unreasonable you feel the situation is. He’ll bring you back to Him. Eventually it will make sense. He is so good, and you can trust He knows what He’s doing. Our stubbornness gets us nowhere. Don’t say, hey, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s not like it’s life and death…..because that’s exactly what it is.
I hope this is helpful to others as it has been to me. Read the book! It’s worth it!