Hardship and the Meaning of Life

The “meaning of life” sounds so unknowable. It is not. The Bible gives clear answers to this question of meaning and the role of hardship.

According to the Bible, the purpose for this universe, both physical and spiritual, is the HONORING OF JESUS CHRIST (see Ephesians 1:9-10). The purpose for human beings is to CO-REIGN WITH JESUS CHRIST in the New Heavens and New Earth (see Revelation 22:5).

The MEANING OF LIFE can then be summed-up in this wonderful phrase, “training for reigning.”

Unfortunately, hardship is an ESSENTIAL part of this training.

The Bible says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children” (Hebrews 12:7).

Hardship is the discipline for TRAINING.

Whatever our hardship and whatever its cause, our heavenly Father is using the hardship to transform our CHARACTER.

God’s goal, as my mentor Dr. Dallas Willard used to say, is that we become the KIND of persons he can trust to do what WE want into eternity.

How much responsibility could God trust us with now – left to ourselves?🤔

Hardship trains us to trust and obey God in spite of pain and distress. Hardship trains us to do the right thing even when the wrong thing looks attractive.

The “pursuit of happiness” is NOT the most important thing in life. The most important thing in life is learning to trust and obey Jesus Christ.

God is quite determined about this.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29).

The apostles of Jesus would say crazy things like “Consider it PURE JOY, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).

Crazy to our ears, perhaps, but they knew something we do not. They knew hardship was THE opportunity to grow in character and to SEE GOD WORK.

Anybody can praise God when winning the World Cup. But can you trust and praise God when you discover you have terminal cancer?

Right now, you are in the midst of life with lots of trouble. I must tell you though, nothing strange is happening to you. No special “fate” has decreed you to suffer. We are all in the same boat. Everybody suffers in this life.

What should you do then, when in the midst of trouble?

After entrusting yourself and your situation to Christ, thank God (out loud) that you get to WATCH HIM WORK in your situation. Release the BURDEN of your troubles to him.

Through listening prayer, study of Scripture, and wise counsel from your pastor and others, find out YOUR responsibilities in the situation so you can leave the REST with God.

God is helping you, so do NOT give way to fear or despair. Praise God anyway. Keep praising him. Keep looking to him. Thank him for every LITTLE good thing in your life. Ask him throughout your day, “What would you like me to be doing now, Lord?” Then do it.

Whatever your hardship, ENTRUST yourself to Jesus Christ. You WILL come through this. God has not abandoned you. He will NOT let you fall beyond his reach. You are right now MORE than a conqueror in this hardship through Jesus Christ.

Take comfort from the Word of God:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

If you have not received Jesus Christ as Lord, the following seven-minute video can help you do that.