It’s Not Easy, and You’re Not Alone

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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“Life is difficult.” With those three words, Scott Peck launched what soon became a publishing phenomenon—The Road Less Traveled, which remained on the New York Times bestseller list for an astonishing ten years. Despite its rather depressing-sounding opening line, the book actually served as a source of deep encouragement for millions of readers (myself included). Because it reminded us that living well is hard, and that to do so requires a spiritual dimension. In other words, the fact that life is difficult wasn’t something to deny or avoid. Indeed, the very difficulty of life compels us to go deeper in our journeys.

The profundity of Peck’s book lay in this paradox: that to admit difficulty is the first step towards being encouraged—about life, love, work, or faith. Life is difficult—as are love, work, and faith—and to do any of them well takes courage. No room here for tepid pats on the back, teethy grins, or kitschy poems about overcoming the odds. La dolce vita, or a full life, is not about the power of positive thinking. Life at the human level is gritty; it takes blood, toil, tears, and sweat to make it through . . . and a lot of encouragement.

The high priests of culture, meanwhile, want to distract you with the lie that comfort and pleasure are ends in themselves and that life shouldn’t be difficult. But to encourage someone by lying to them is to give counterfeit hope—hope with no staying power. To say that life is easy, or should be, does no one any good because it is not true, and only the truth will set us free. As a wise counselor once said, “The truth is all that matters.” Anything else, no matter how nice it sounds or how well it preaches, serves only to pull us further away from any true contentment. We remain strangely at odds with ourselves and with each other—we remain discouraged, and we wonder why.

Helen Keller, who knew a thing or two about discouragement, said that life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Didn’t Jesus say something similar . . . that to gain life, one must lose it; that the way of servitude is the way of the disciple; and that we must pick up our crosses and follow him? His words are not for the faint of heart. But neither is life. Life is difficult. And it should be. So take courage. Take heart. And know that we’re not in this alone. Jesus said, “I am with you always. To the end of the age.”