I’m ready to admit it–we have a problem, an obsession really. As Americans, and even more shockingly as believers, we have an addiction to “ease.”
We love it! We crave it! A lifestyle of “ease” has become our consuming passion. We even feel entitled to it! What is worse, we look to heaven in resentment when we don’t get it.
Why God are you allowing this? Why is life so hard? Isn’t it supposed to be easier?
Where much of the world is consumed with daily survival in war-torn countries or starving nations, we can find ourselves in the peculiar position of being “at risk” because of our affluence.
What is it costing us?
Our obsession to seek after “ease” in our jobs, our parenting, our marriages, our health, even in our faith, has cost us plenty!
We have become a generation, a society, that has forgotten the true standard of normal. We have sought to re-establish what should be daily expectations.
Instead of hard work sprinkled with usual doses of sacrifice, we have chosen to declare “ease” as the norm with gracious doses of comfort. Somehow, we have declared war on old-fashioned toil and self-sacrifice.
And boy is that hurting us!!
I should know…
Somewhere along the way, I bought into this mindset just like much of our society. As a recovering perfectionist, I came to the mindset that my role as a wife and mother was to ensure ease/comfort for my family. And let’s be honest, that came as a benefit to me as well, for the more my family did not “lack”, the more ease that was for me.
Who wants a home filled with people struggling with problems?!?!
Surely if I strived hard enough, we could have an easier time as a family. I mean weren’t we supposed to have Hallmark days and Disney vacations as our norm?
It took several years of my efforts to fix or prevent all our troubles that I finally began to wake up to the REAL problem- I was expecting a life of ease as our norm.
It had become my idol!
How was “ease” my idol?
An idol is anything we value more than we should and at the expense of God. It is what we worship, what we NEED in order to be happy.
I had grown to need “ease” in order to be content with life. If our family norm was plagued with troubles of varying kinds then that wasn’t acceptable.
Dealing with all the “needs” of a family was becoming intolerable. From schoolwork demands to sports drama, learning issues to teenage rebellion, friend issues to work ethics, something was always popping up that demanded my attention. Between teaching the kids what they needed to learn through middle/high school and subsequently holding them accountable, I was becoming resentful over why we didn’t have an easier time with it all.
Life, and for that matter faith, wasn’t supposed to be THIS MUCH trouble, was it?!
Surely trouble/sacrifice were only rarely necessary at best, right?
I didn’t like all the hard work of living in a world of sin. Whether it was dealing with my own sin or the sin of others, or just hardship in general, I wanted a little to no-cost kind of lifestyle.
And that is just not what I see exampled for me by Christ in the gospels!
What was Jesus consumed with?
Jesus should always harken us back to what our true perspective should be, so as I see Him in Matthew 12:15-21, I see His mindset clearly.
Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him.
This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.”
At first glance, we can think that if God was so pleased with Jesus, then why was He suffering and striving? Why was life so hard? This passage speaks of the purpose Jesus was to fulfill that was prophesied from the beginning. Christ enduring hardship was God’s plan for Him all along, even though God loved and delighted in Him!
Jesus spent His life in obedience to His Father, perfectly aligned with His will. He considered God and others before His own need or comfort. Christ was not after life matching His expectations of prosperity this side of heaven but instead, came to earth knowing that trouble was what awaited Him. It was not intended to be “heaven on earth”.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
A trouble-free life was never His intention! Ease wasn’t the expectation!
Why do we need peace more than we need ease?
Preventing or solving all the problems of the world was never the goal of Christ. Reconciling a lost human race to a Holy God was what was important, not His own personal comfort.
You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. Acts 10:36
Through Christ, we are able to have peace with God, which allows us then to experience it in all others areas of life.
The mindset from the beginning was not a trouble-free existence in this world but instead for the peace of Christ to OVERCOME all the trouble.
His “peace” is not FROM suffering or sacrifices but IN and THROUGH them!!
The peace of Christ overcomes our trouble and the discomfort of this world! That’s to be our goal in life and the answer for the idolatry of “ease”!
How can we adjust?
When we are faced with yet another marriage issue, we can deal with it through Christ and the peace He offers us. As we encounter work trials, we will not be thrown off-guard by them because we will anticipate trouble, not as an exception to the rule, but as the norm of life this side of heaven. If our health takes an unexpected turn, we will run to Christ for the grace we need to bear that burden.
As society tells us to let electronics raise our kids and to excuse their lazy, selfish, disrespectful behavior, we will refuse the easier path of denial and get to the work of parenting the children we are blessed to have. When society says to expect less from one another to forego loving each other well in truth, we will look to Christ and His example of sacrificial love.
And even more importantly, when we feel weary from all the busy schedules that we allow and create, we will not give way to laziness and forego our time in the Word. We will not push God aside in order to have more time for ourselves. Understanding the need to adjust our schedules rather than our time with God, we will keep right priorities.
I know this can be easier said than done so I have provided a reference for how to find peace practically when you are feeling the weight of trouble in your life.
Dear friends, let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance this race before us. May we toss away our idols of ease and be willing to follow hard after Him. There is so much to gain if we do and so much to lose if we don’t.