It’s a funny thing, how we humans measure success. Of course, it is really quite a complicated thing to decide upon. Sometimes reaching a goal is success, sometimes not reaching the goal is success since it redirects us to a better way, or teaches us something we wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
A related dilemma is that of making decisions. On what criteria should we make decisions? I’ve found that I’m tempted to equate something being difficult with it probably being a good decision; maybe because if something is easy it seems like it would be the cop-out decision. Or because hard things seem more spiritual. Good choices and actions take effort right?
A more day to day example of this issue is that of worrying- I’m more likely to feel like I’m accomplishing something if I am anxiously making a list in my head then if I am resting or praying. The latter, though, is much more valuable.
I’m offering dichotomies of course. In the end we need both hard work, planning and goal-setting and resting, praying and trusting God to work. “Work… for it is God that works in you” speaks of salvation, but it indicates this tension. We also know that we are both to take up our cross and cast our burden on the Lord. We are to strive to enter His rest. We know that “without faith it is impossible to please God” and that “faith without works is dead.” We know that even this is “the gift of God.”
There is no inherent virtue in choosing the easy path. The path of least resistance will not train any muscles. The question is, which muscles are we training? Muscles of self-righteousness and self-satisfaction or muscles of faith and resulting action? There is a quote that I don’t know the source of, but it has stuck with me, something like this: “You blessings are weighty, too heavy to bear.” There is a different sort of difficulty involved in accepting things from God that we have not worked for, the difficulty of humility.
Someday perhaps I will be able to look at life more clearly, and more clearly perceive life in terms of what God deems as valuable, successful and good. Right now I’m trying to start asking the question of myself more often, and not base it off of what seems easy or hard.