Have you — like me — ever found yourself thinking “I don’t believe anyone else has it this hard?”
Some days we know we’re being ridiculous, but other days we really wonder. We see organized moms, happy couples; healthy, beautiful, prosperous people. We feel quite alone with our impossible workload, our debt, our anxiety, our marital struggle.
Do you remember the scene from Notting Hill where each character shares the sob story of their life in order to win the last brownie? It’s pretty obvious that the woman in the wheelchair deserves it, but a few moments later, Julia Robert’s movie star character insists that she should have a chance at it: after all, she says, she starves herself, her personal life is exposed to the entire world, and her beauty and talent will soon fade, leaving her a sad, forgotten “has-been.” For a moment, everyone considers the unexpected truth of her statement, but then they burst into laughter. “Nice try!” “Pathetic effort to hog the brownie!”
But I get it. Sometimes we’re misled by the obvious. Everyone really does have their own story of struggle and pain.
My husband and I spent almost eight years as missionaries in Haiti, and from the perspective of some, I may have qualified as Notting Hill’s wheelchair-bound woman. We tried for nine years to adopt our three Haitian children. One of our five children had special needs — unable to even be diagnosed in an undeveloped country. We weathered a political coup, hurricanes, robberies, voodoo, a shooting, the 2010 earthquake, and last-but-not-least, no air-conditioning. I found myself often convinced that all of “you” back in the States could not possibly understand how challenging my life was!
Now it’s true; most of you have not lived through that particular state of circumstances, but does that mean you don’t understand suffering, heartache, and disappointment? Hardly.
Honestly, I would much rather live through those eight years in Haiti again than experience some of the trials you are facing.
The truth is, there is no easy life.
From the godly retreat speaker to the glamorous Hollywood celebrity, “each heart knows its own bitterness” (Proverbs 14:10). And as much as it pains me to admit it, “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).
“… In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
It’s pointless comparing our trials. We’re wrong to assume we “have it the worst,” or that there is someone out there with the perfect, enviable life.
We will have trouble in this world.
But, Jesus has overcome this world!
Today is not all there is. Things will NOT continue on forever just the way they are right now. Eternity is quickly approaching, and with it a weight of glory that so far surpasses the troubles we are experiencing that Paul dares to call them “light and momentary” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
That is our eternal hope!
And how do we hold onto hope today?
The first thing we do is pour out our hearts to our God (Psalm 62:8). He is our refuge. He cares for us, so we cast our burdens and cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7). When we are nothing but weakness, we rely on His grace — His power (1 Corinthians 12:9). We trust Him: He promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). His faithfulness gives us "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow."
That mountain you're facing... the challenges ahead of me... none of it's easy.
Yet there is hope:
"Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God" (Psalm 42:11).
My life is exactly as "full" as you would expect from a mom of five, ages seven to fourteen. My husband Jarod, a cross-country and track coach, combats the chaos by literally running everyone's energy out. My goal is to impart some kind of training of eternal value each day, while also trying write a few more paragraphs in my book — a memoir of our years in Haiti. In between cooking, doing laundry, and telling my kids to put their hamsters back in their cages, I blog about "living boldly in a broken world." I'd love to meet you at jenniferebenhack.com.