One of the things I inherited somehow from my Christian upbringing was this idea that if God is behind something, it should be easy, simple, smooth, etc.
I don't know how many times I've heard someone use that as criteria for choosing a direction in their life, or whether or not to do x or y or z. "Well, we didn't get the visa on the first try so I guess that means God is shutting the door and that's not where we're supposed to go."
Don't think it's just Christians who do it though. Cloaked in different words, the universe is opposing you, the stars aren't aligned, it wasn't meant to be, fate had something else in mind, it's still the same pervasive mindset that if things don't come easily then there's a wrongness in continuing to strive for them.
I can't answer for anyone but the Christians here, but let's for a second contrast that attitude with some stories from the Bible shall we?
For instance, this morning in the junior high Sunday school class that I teach we read through the first 3 chapters of Deuteronomy, which is the beginning of Moses's recap of what happened between Egypt and Israel entering into the land promised them. Here's the thing. For years it says they wandered in the wilderness, their clothing and shoes didn't wear out, and God fed them manna from heaven. That sounds pretty easy right?
Well, then they got to Kadesh Barnea, sent in spies to check out the land, freaked out that they were going to have to go up against a bunch of really big guys protecting fortified cities and they got scared and ran away. "Why did you bring us all the way here? So that these guys could kill us?" is essentially what they asked.
So God tells them that they don't get to enter the land he's promised them after all, 'cause they're afraid of a little fight to get it. He'll wait until they are dead and their children are grown and then he'll take their kids back to the land he promised them and they'll be the ones to take it.
Notice something. He promised it to them, but he's not just handing it to them on a silver platter. Strange, no?
So for 38 years they wander around, the grown ups drop like flies at every opportunity, and when they need to go somewhere they ask for safe passage from the neighboring countries as they wander and they are given it. Until the last 2 years. Suddenly they aren't being allowed to pass through countries anymore. In fact, the kings oppose them and come out against them with their armies.
Now, by the prevalent modern Christianese logic they definitely ought to seriously wonder if God is still with them, or if they ought to go a different way, since they are now facing opposition.
Only they don't run away this time, they fight back, and they win every battle, and by the time they reach the Jordan they are a battle hardened, strong backed nation and everyone who hears they are coming is terrified.
There are all sorts of other things in that story that make you go "hmmm". But today that was the bit that got to me.
I like to just throw in the towel and quit when the going gets hard you see. That's what I want to do. This little bit way of thinking has clung to me since my youth and the harder I have to work for something the more I tend to wonder if I ought to. Maybe I'm just trying to force something to happen that isn't supposed to happen. Maybe I'm having such a hard time pushing this rock up this mountain because it's not meant to be on top of this mountain. Maybe I should quit because the going is hard.
Or maybe that line of thinking is just a load of crap.
Maybe something is hard because it's worth doing. Maybe the battle is coming to me because I'm actually getting closer to the end, to seeing the promise fulfilled. Maybe the things worth having, the promises that we see fulfilled are only obtained by picking up our figurative swords and going out against the really big guys entrenched in their fortified cities, like poverty, corruption, greed, and evil of every kind, and taking back what was ours in the first place.* Maybe that we are able to fight at all is a sign that we're not fighting this battle on our own. Not really.
So what's the point of a promise that you have to work your butt off, and fight like mad to realize? I guess that's up to you to work out. But I'm pretty sure that the fact that it's hard and you have to work for it is a point in it's favor, not against it.
Christians have a tendency to equate trust in God in a situation with waiting for him to do something about it. I tend to think that trust in God and his promises is what gets you started in the first place, that's the reason we pick up that sword and go to work.
What do you think?
*I need to find a catchy way to say this so I can tattoo it on my forehead for all the times I get discouraged and want to throw in the towel. I trust in God, now get to work? Um, don't quit, you've still got lot to do? Someone has to get this rock up this hill, why not you? The bigger the opposition the harder you need to fight? Help me out, none of these are particularly catchy. :)