Who Decides What Is Hard?

Tracy Dougherty, COMPEL Training Member
Tracy Dougherty | Proverbs 31 Ministries

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had …”

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We often hear on the news and social media the stories people share of the hard things they are going through. I have to admit that sometimes I want to roll my eyes at what people say is “hard.”

But recently, God reminded me of an experience I had when my family was stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana. My husband was part of the invasion into Iraq, and we didn’t know when he would return home. We didn’t know if he would return home.

I was in a leadership position for a women’s ministry that serves military spouses. One morning, I was in the front yard with our daughters when my phone rang. When I answered, a soft voice on the other end said, “Hi, Tracy. You don’t know me. My name is Susan. I don’t know who else to call, but I need prayer.”

I responded, “Yes, of course, any time! How can I pray for you?”

She said, “We just moved here, and I know many husbands are deployed to Iraq. My husband just left for two weeks’ Temporary Duty to the Pentagon. I have a 2-year-old and a newborn, and I’m really nervous.”

Immediately, I thought, Her husband is gone for only two weeks — he’s still in the U.S. — and no one is shooting at him. Really?! I haven’t even talked to my husband in almost three months!

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit got a hold of my mouth before I could say anything insensitive or unkind. Then the Holy Spirit got a hold of my heart. What this woman was experiencing was hard! Two weeks by herself in a new place with a 2-year-old and a newborn — that’s certainly hard.

What’s considered “hard” in our lives isn’t up for comparison.

So I got the young mother’s contact information and invited her to some kid-friendly events that I thought she would enjoy and where she could connect with other women. Then I prayed for her while we were on the phone. I checked back in with her a few days later. As I ended the call that day, I realized this:

It’s not up to me to decide what’s hard. I just need to love others through their hard.

Just as Romans 15:5 says, we are to have the same “attitude of mind” toward others that Christ has toward us — one of grace, love and understanding. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had …” (Romans 15:5)

So how can I have an attitude like Jesus toward other people? The key is to ask God. We can depend on God to provide; He is faithful.

No matter what we’re all going through, our current situations may very well be hard — they’re just hard in different ways. The situation I deem easy — our college-aged daughter coming home from school during the pandemic to live with us temporarily — is hard for the single mother who now has her children home with no childcare and can’t go to work. That’s hard … but we can’t dwell on the hard. We can’t allow all our focus to be on the hard. But we can love and encourage one another through the hard … and, in fact, that’s exactly what we’re called to do.

Heavenly Father, please open my eyes to the challenges others around me are experiencing. Give me a Christ-like attitude toward them and a desire to love them well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

FOR DEEPER STUDY

John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)

Galatians 6:2, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (NLT)

Do you know anyone who is going through a kind of hard that’s different from yours? How can you love that person well?

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