There is a popular social media post doing the rounds that says “You Choose Your Hard.”
It then goes on to describe the ways that this is true, things like, exercise is hard but so is a heart attack, choose your hard, being financially disciplined is hard, being in debt is hard, choose your hard. I used to read these posts and agree and nod to myself, but something didn’t quite sit right.
I agree with the basic premise of the post – in some aspects of our lives, we can choose our hard. We can choose to take the hard road now, do the work, and be disciplined to avoid a different kind of hard at a later date. From that perspective this sort of quote can be motivational, it can encourage us to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. There is both wisdom and truth in the principle, but not every kind of hard that we encounter in life is our choice.
What do we do when encounter a situation that we have no choice in? What happens when things are hard and it is completely out of our control? In those times, we may not be able to choose our hard, but we can choose our attitude toward our hard. We can choose how we approach life in the middle of the chaos of our situation.
It is so easy when everything is a struggle to focus on the negative. It is easy to do what the disciples did in the story in Mark 4, where they were caught in a storm while they were on a boat. They were terrified and Jesus was sleeping. They woke him up and questioned if he even cared if they drowned (Verse 38).
I might be the only one who does this but sometimes when life is a struggle, I ask Jesus why he forgot about me. I am like the disciples, I want to know if Jesus has noticed I am drowning. There is a place for honest questioning. We need to be able to sit with Jesus in the hard places and tell him how we feel about it, ask him questions about the things that make no sense, but it’s what we do after that often determines how we walk through the hard things in our lives.
I have found time and time again that when I turn my focus to being thankful for what I have instead of focusing on the hard things that are happening around me, it changes everything about my attitude to my situation. I might not be able to choose my hard in every case, but I can definitely choose my response to the hard places in my life.