“Lord, make my life easier….” Have you ever prayed that kind of a prayer? Have you ever wished that life would be easier; that challenges would be less frequent; adversity would be less stressful and obstacles would be less daunting?
Join the club!
Yet, I can’t help but think that maybe the best life is not the easy life. After all, when was the last time any one was inspired by the story of someone who never faced a trial? Let’s consider the story of Tommy Caldwell. Caldwell is a highly accomplished rock climber from Colorado. He has risen in fame over the last several years due to his highly ambitious, and some experts have said, outright unwise rock climbing attempts. In 2015 he successfully climbed the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in 19 days, something never accomplished before in the history of rock climbing. To make the story even more incredible… he did it with only 9 fingers! In 2001 a construction accident left him without much of his left index finger. As you can imagine, your fingers are rather important tools for rock climbing. But Caldwell did not allow this obstacle to hold him back. He continued to push forward in spite of his limitations, making his success that much sweeter.
Jesus’ half-brother, James, has these words of his recorded in Scripture: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2). Why is it that trials and hardship should spark a response of joy? He goes on to explain, “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:3). James is making a case that trials ought to be a cause for celebration, not because the trial is good in and of itself, nor because it is necessarily from God — but simply because of the potential that that trial carries with it to cause you to grow in perseverance.
I am not proposing we should search for trials, seek out obstacles or even pray for adversity to come our way. But I am proposing that there is a better way to pray than to say, “Lord, make my life easier.” What if instead, we began to pray, “Lord, make me stronger.” Rather than wishing our 50 pound problems became 20 pound problems, what if we started believing our 20 pound strength would become 50 pound strength? After all, the Bible is filled with stories of God using weak, unqualified and uneducated people to do extraordinary things.
The Prophet Isaiah gives us a picture of how God helps us when our present challenges seem greater than our potential to overcome them:
“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31)
Our reality is this: life will bring us challenges, trials, obstacles and adversity.
God’s promise is this: if we look to Him and ask for His help, He will increase our strength, renew our strength and ultimately cause us to finish well with sufficient strength still in the tank for the next challenge that is yet to come!
My hope for us is that we would stop praying, “Lord, make my life easier” and start praying, “Lord, make me stronger.”