I’ve had a hard day. This has been one hard month. We’ve had a hard year. My life has been so hard.
Yep. Sometimes life is like that. It certainly was for Jacob.
“Jacob replied, ‘I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years.’” (Genesis 47:9 NLT)
“From the dew of heaven and the richness of the earth, may God always give you abundant harvests of grain and bountiful new wine. May many nations become your servants, and may they bow down to you. May you be the master over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. All who curse you will be cursed, and all who bless you will be blessed.” (Genesis 27:28-29 NLT)
What an incredible blessing. Surely such blessing would guarantee at least a good life.
Yet Jacob did not experience that kind of life.
Why did someone who had God’s blessing on his life live such a hard life?
Perhaps Jacob made life hard on himself.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3 NLT)
Might I remind us that as believers, we too live under a blessing. A superior blessing to that of Jacob. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing you can possibly imagine, and then some.
So why is life hard?
Yes, there are times we come under immense attack. The minute you gave your life to Christ you became a target of Satan. And he makes it hard.
But, sometimes we make it hard on ourselves.
How do we make life hard on ourselves? I’m glad you asked.
The couple desperately wanting to have a baby could become discouraged and disheartened, or cherish time they spend together.
The single woman who wishes to be married could pine away in sorrow, or she could embrace the benefits of singledom wholeheartedly.
A child could despise waking for school each morning or be thankful for the opportunity of education.
It all depends on perspective.
From Jacob’s perspective, his was a hard life. And you have to admit, it kinda was.
His brother wanted to kill him, he married four women, his daughter was raped, his sons killed a city in revenge, his son Reuben had an affair with one of his wives, he thought his son was dead for 13 years, and his livelihood was struck by famine.
However, Jacob also had incredible experiences. He was blessed by his father, he dreamt of angels ascending and descending from heaven, God promised his descendants would be great, he fell in love with a beautiful woman, he had twelve children, he prospered even when Laban tried to deceive him, he was protected, he reconciled with Esau, he wrestled with God, in famine God sent him to Goshen, he was reunited with his son, and died passing the blessing on to the rest of his family.
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)
If life is hard, take heart and have the perspective of an overcomer.
If you read Jacob’s journey to Paddan-Aram in Genesis 29 and 30, you find there is a lot of work going on. Jacob had to work for his wives. Leah worked for love. Rachel worked for approval.
Perhaps life is hard because you are working for it instead of operating out of grace.
There is work where seven years feels like days called grace. There is work that feels like more than seven years called toil. And there is a fine line between them both.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 11:28-29 MSG)
If life is hard; stop forcing it and allow God’s rhythms of grace to take the lead.
There are times when life is hard because of our own poor choices.
Laban was bad news. He sold his daughters. He lied. He cheated.
Yet Jacob got into agreement with Laban. And he paid for it.
Get in agreement with the wrong person and you end up with Leah. You end up with trouble, debt, bad relationships, and addictions to name a few.
If life is hard because of poor decisions and bad agreements there is a way out. It might be as simple as unfollowing their posts on social media. It may mean blocking their number. Or it might require specific wisdom. Remember, God promises to provide wisdom when we ask (James 1:5).
The Bible tells us Leah had weak eyes (Genesis 29:17 NIV), but if you ask me, Jacob was the one with weak eyes. He couldn’t see the future and lived in the past.
When Joseph was taken to Egypt, Jacob almost died of heartbreak. The one thing keeping him alive was tied up in the past – his first love and the good that came of their union.
Nothing makes life hard like looking back. Life is not meant to be lived in reverse. The past does not belong to us.
Decide today you will no longer make life hard on yourself. Change your perspective, mindset, decisions, and vision. A blessed life does not have to be hard.
[written by Sarah Coleman, a wife, mother and Senior Pastor]