I have a very unmanly confession to make.
I want to tell you about the best purchase I’ve made in the last year. If you knew me at all, you’d be surprised to hear it’s not a motorcycle accessory or a piece of music gear. It’s one of those Roomba robot vacuums. It’s not even a Roomba, it’s the knockoff one that cost $109 on Amazon. I literally laughed at these when they first came out years ago. So what changed? I had kids. And I realized that with the amount of food dropped under my kitchen table I either needed to buy a robot vacuum or a cocker spaniel. I’m not a pet person, so I went with the robot.
Can I tell you how much easier this has made my life? It comes on a schedule, and every night at 8:15 when the kids go to bed and I’m cracking a beer, this little robot minion roams around my house and sucks up of all of the stale cheerios and mac and cheese. Can I GET AN AMEN!?
It’s so easy. I love it. I love how easy technology has made things. And we’re not talking about the industrial revolution where technology expanded the scale and scope of what was possible. That, of course. I mean the kind of technology where I can get Taco Bell without having to put on shoes.
But can I tell you what I’ve come to find about “ease?” While I love it, It doesn’t love me. In fact, here’s my hypothesis and ultimately what I want to make a case for today. When it comes to anything important and worth doing:
EASY HATES YOU AND WANTS TO RUIN YOUR LIFE.
We all want things to just work. We want our plans to come together. What could be wrong with that, you ask? I’m coming to find that if easy were a person, he’d be a bond villain or a dude with a shiv and an eye patch waiting for you to turn your back.
Am I saying we should want things to be hard all the time? NO. But is it good for things to be easy for us all the time? NO! Not at all. So how do we know where the line is? I think it comes back to our goal.
When we’re leaning into an easier solution so we can spend our time on something more important (like letting a robot vacuum my floor so I can spend more time with my wife at night)—probably OK. When I expect life to be easy because I think I deserve to lay around and relax more? That’s worth a gut check.
Because the more I lean into easy, the more I find it taints my expectations about life. Expecting easy turns into feeling entitled to something I was never promised.
Where did we get the idea that work is bad? That life should be easier? That things should work better? The reality is that the world broke a long time ago and expecting ease died with it. But work itself has inherently always been a good thing. Whether you believe in God or not, go with me on this for a minute.
When the world was created, it was good. Even when the world was perfect before there was any sin, there was work. God didn’t give humanity an immaculately pristine world to just lay around and enjoy. He gave them a beautiful planet that was wild—one that needed to be cultivated, tamed, and expanded. There was good work to do.
But then, if you know the story, sin (AKA brokenness, not trusting God, selfishness, pride, etc.) happened. And all the good perfection of the original world was tainted. Even work itself was cursed. God told us in the very beginning, work was going to be hard. But maybe that doesn’t mean it’s bad. We have a choice in how we experience it and respond.
Not a fan of the Bible? Then, how about the Second Law of Thermodynamics? Without active intervention, things are going downhill. There’s even research that suggests people who retire early die sooner than those who keep on working. I think we understand on an intuitive level that work is good. We know we can’t fake exercise. We can’t fake our way to wisdom. Or maturity. Or a life of impact. There are a few things in my life that are great and came easy, but most of the time we get what we pay for.
Millennials (myself included) are the main ones to get a bad rap for entitlement. But I find it especially true for Christians. Christians are amazing at being surprised when life is hard. You can tell by our favorite Bible verses:
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
- I am more than a conqueror
- Everything happens for a reason (not actually in the Bible, btw)
You’ve seen these verses set in cool font posted over a perfectly cropped, background of a field with sunshine and a rainbow or something.
We are primarily concerned with using God’s truth to avoid pain, but I don’t think that was God’s intent. And I don’t think God is surprised when my life is hard. I actually don’t think He’s even as disappointed as I am.
Let’s look at some other verses. Can you imagine these set on a beautiful background? The last one is my favorite, so I went ahead and made one for you. You’re welcome.
- Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. Job 14:1 ESV
- In this world you will have trouble. John 16:33a NIV
- Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12, NLT
These aren’t the verses that people like to read. You’re not going to see that bad boy written in cursive with a friggin’ eagle soaring in the background. These are the verses we like to pretend like aren’t there. But Jesus isn’t surprised when bad stuff happens to us! We shouldn’t be either. I shouldn’t! I’m in a spot right now where I’ve got three kids under four. Yeah, we’re those parents. This is not an easy time for us. Add to that I’m in the middle of a job change. Add to that we moved to a new city. We’ve done three of the five most stressful things you can experience in as many months.
But I believe this isn’t just a social dynamic. It’s a problem in our worldview, or if you follow God, our theology.
Let me be clear, I am not making light of anybody’s difficulty. That is not my hope or intention. There have been parts of my life that have been profoundly difficult. A number of years ago I went through a season where every five months I was at a family member’s funeral. Seven people close to me died culminating in the death of my nephew, my mother, and my sister. And it nearly broke me.
But part of what was so painful was that I didn’t expect it, and I had no bearing for how God could use it. And I don’t mean in an “everything happens for a reason” sort of way that people often terribly use to try to paste a silver lining onto real suffering. I don’t believe any of that happened for a reason or that I should feel better about it. But I wish I knew then how God can do something on the other side of it.
That’s where I want us to have more perspective. God’s word truly is full of passages that offer us promises of encouragement, strength, and peace in the midst of trial. But they also make it really clear that difficulty is coming and how we respond is really important.
I want better than easy for you. I want resilience for you. And for me. I want to be strong in the face of difficulty. I want a better goal and a bigger purpose than an “easy” life.
Easy will rob us of the chance to grow to our potential if we let it. So, the next time you want easy, check your why behind it. If a robot gives you more quality time with a loved one, go for it. If you feel entitled to easy, try wanting strength and resilience more than ease, and see what God can do with a little more grit and trust.
Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...
Where might the expectation or goal of easy be robbing you right now?
Where does your preference towards easy come from? Hurt at how life has played out? Expectation that it “should have” been easier? Exhaustion? Why?
Whether you’re used to talking to God or not, take a few minutes to journal or pray about it now. Set a two minute timer and see if you hear anything back. (Hearing can look like a gut instinct, an unexpected thought, a picture that comes to mind, a memory, or more. It can also come through asking friends or reading the Bible.)
What would it look like to change your perspective and come at that area of life from a place of strength instead? Think of one tangible way you could change. Forward this article to a friend and name that thing. Ask them to help hold you to it.
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(This stuff helps us figure out how many fruitcakes to make come December)
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