June 3, 2012
The Road That Leads to Life is Not Effortless
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13‑14).
As we make our way toward better things, we should expect to meet difficulty. “Narrow is the gate,” Jesus said, “and difficult is the way which leads to life.” If our main interest is in ease, we won't last long on this journey. Like most other good things, fellowship with God requires some serious investment. There is a price to be paid. There is an effort that must be exerted.
We should not be surprised at difficulty. The apostle Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). As long as the devil is on the loose, we need not expect the path to God to be unobstructed. And not only that, we need not expect our bad habits to surrender without a fight. “All things are difficult before they are easy” ( Sir Thomas Fuller).
We should not be resentful of difficulty. As Paul and Barnabas returned from their first missionary journey, they revisited the congregations that had been established, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22). Resistance is a fact of life for all who would return to God's rule. This fact should not make us resentful or bitter. By the time we've finished our work, if not before, we'll see that hardships were not our foes but our friends. “In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us” (Rainer Maria Rilke).
We should not be defeated by difficulty. We may be discouraged, but we need not be defeated. Being strong doesn't mean we never stumble, and as far as our emotions are concerned, we won't always feel courageous. Yet there is one thing we can always do: we can refuse to give up. When we fall, we can make the choice to get back up. Heaven is a place for those too “stubborn” to settle for the easier path, the one that Jesus said leads to destruction.
“Does the road wind uphill all the way? Yes, to the very end. Will the journey take the whole long day? From morn to night, my friend.” –Christina Georgina Rossetti