2020 has been a hard year. Hardest hit are the millions across the globe who are grieving the almost 900,000 who have died. 27 million people have been infected, most with mild symptoms, but many have
battled life threatening illness for weeks and months. The economic cost globally is beyond calcul
ation. Financial pain is personal pain for millions. Lockdowns short or long continue to be an incredible burden to bear. Plans, dreams and hopes have been put on hold or abandoned altogether. Many lament their inability to travel and visit loved ones. It has been a hard year – no doubt. There have been lots of superlatives and quite a few imaginative swear words to describe 2020. But I want to ask a controversial question.
Is hard always bad?
Working out in a gym on a Navy base can be daunting. There are lots of very fit young men and women who train incredibly hard. They lift heavy weights. They embrace ‘hard’ accepting that hard is the way to strength, to power and to
growth. Those who bench press 50 kgs aspire to bench press 60. I sometimes mentally add up the weights on the end of a bar bell and am amazed by the strength and agility of youth. Fit young people in a gym do not shy away from hard. They accept struggle, and even embrace the pain believing it will produce the result they desire.
From ancient times civilisations have embraced hardship, pain and difficulty as an effective path to developing character, strength and resilience. The old book describes it like this.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into o
ur hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5: 3-5
It would be foolish and heartless to say that Covid 19 has been good for us. Rather it might be reasonable to acknowledge that from hardship, good can come. From pain, growth. From struggle, strength. From difficulty, a determination to find a way through. Humans have long found that when natural resources are spent – deeper spiritual resources need to be mined.
A popular, slightly corny, preacher in the US coined the phrase; ‘Tough times never last, tough people do’. 2020 will long be remembered as a tough year. The default response of bitterness and regret to the challenges of hardship is not the only option. Hardship can be endured, difficulty accepted, and struggle embraced in the hope that strength, determination and perseverance will flow.