Hard Love: Getting Perspective on Trials at Work and Home

“Play the fun music, Daddy!”

The “fun music” is Hard Love, the album by NeedtoBreathe. My kids (five and three) are obsessed with it. It’s on all the time.

I wasn’t exactly in the best mood that evening. It had been another day with an unexpected setback at work, another unexpected issue to navigate, more added to an overflowing plate.

Ordinarily in weeks or a month like this I’d carve out regular time at night to catch up on the work surge, but setbacks and crises seemed to be happening in other commitments and roles at the same time.

I didn’t have any capacity left, but the demands kept coming.

Whatever. I put on the music.

It’s not enough to just feel the flame / you’ve gotta burn your old self away / Hold on tight a little longer / what don’t kill you make you stronger / Get back up, ‘cause it’s a hard love

It was like I heard it for the first time.

Hard love.

That’s not a “fun” message. But it is true and good. And exactly what we need to hear.

See, we sort of program ourselves to deal with some setbacks, but we generally expect things to go well if we’re putting our best effort in. Especially if we’re seeking God, right?

But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes the trials just keep coming. And our inclination to just power through doesn’t work when you’re past capacity.

We understand consequences, and maybe that’s why it’s hard to understand trials. The easy question is, “God, why are You doing this to me? I’m working hard, I’m seeking You, investing in things I know You care about. Why are these trials happening? Why can’t I just catch a break?”

We’re quick to typecast things as happening to us. But what if they’re really happening for us? If we serve a good God, and a sovereign God, then all circumstances must work out in some way as part of His good plan.

God is up to something so much bigger than what we can see, and the relative smoothness or rockiness of our day (or week, or month) is almost never a reliable indicator of how good His plan is or how well it’s working.

God loves us more than we can possibly imagine, and a trial in spite of our relative faithfulness is His hard love.

So when things go well – recognize it for the gift that it is. Give praise, share it, enjoy it.

But when they don’t – recognize it for the blessing that it is. God is refining us. He is preparing us to experience more of His joy. He is forcing us to depend on Him. He is burning the old self away.

So if you’re going through a trial, hold on tight. Let your security in His love and good plan dictate your attitude and shape your response. And trust Him. Because it’s a hard love.

 

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