It’s almost time. Spring is just around the corner for half of the hemisphere. Birds are beginning to migrate, trees are about to begin budding, and flowers are soon to bloom.

Once they do, all we see is the beauty: gorgeous colors and textures against dark earth. But the other side of beauty is the struggle to get there.

If God allowed Jesus to go through difficulty while on Earth, what makes us think we should be exempt? In leadership and life, hard places become the breeding ground that defines our strength and character. Difficulty forces out the hidden things within us — the things that only God knows are in there, until they are forced to surface.

Hard places are not punishment. Was God punishing Jesus when he was tempted, or when the soldiers were beating him, or when he struggled to carry the cross? No. There is a bigger picture if we take the time to contemplate.

Hard places are settings for refinement and growth. Growth is not fun, but it is necessary. When things don’t grow, they begin to die.

We can learn much about growth from God’s creation.

A flower bulb is dried and withered when it is forced into the darkness of the earth, several inches below ground. For many varieties, survival is a remote existence without any sunlight, deep and dark throughout the winter. Above the frozen tundra lie piles of snow and ice, which eventually melt to provide the plant with needed moisture. As the seed starts to come undone, shape and form are lost. Breaking out of its shell, the journey to the surface begins, bit by bit, centimeter by centimeter. Propelling its way through hard-packed dirt, the flower must force its way in and around rocks, roots, and other debris. As it pops its head above ground, seeking the brightness of the sun and moisture, it has no control over its circumstances. Needs must wait to be fulfilled. Its roots only grow deeper through adversity and struggle, but strength is found in its deepening rootstock and tenacity for life.

Hard Places meme

Let me reiterate that hard places in life are not punishment. Rather, they are the proving ground
for tenacity, trust, and life.

If life is hard, consider the possibility that you are in a good place. Lessons are to be learned along the way, growth achieved in ways you couldn’t previously comprehend, for sure. But what if what is waiting on the other side of the struggle might be a beautiful miracle, just as it is with much of creation? What if the determination, persistence,
and perseverance learned along the way just happen to change everything for the better?

A quote from Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest recently encouraged my heart so much: “Watch for the storms of God. The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms.”

Is it possible that you can really trust God with the things you can’t yet see? I believe it is. With all of my being, I believe he is trustworthy and true. And I believe that he is trustworthy and true for you too.