Fifth Sunday of Easter

“If it becomes uncomfortable, quit.”  “If you wish to succeed, you must undergo hardship.”  Here are two opposite pieces of advice, each of which has its place.  To someone trying out a new pair of shoes to see if they cause blisters, the better advice is “if it becomes uncomfortable, quit.”  But to someone else, who is running a race, whose feet are also becoming uncomfortable, the better advice is “if you wish to succeed, you must undergo hardship.”

It is sometimes hard for us to know when to follow which piece of advice: quit or endure.  An employee, for example, who is uncomfortable at work, has to decide whether to quit or to undergo hardship in pursuit of success.

Another example: two friends are quarreling with each other.  They have to decide whether to go their separate ways or to bear each other’s burdens.  In such cases, people on the outside tend to root for the friendship because they want to see it last.  We value friendship over comfort (at least in theory).

Christianity is like the example of the quarreling friends.  By sinning, we put our comfort first, and we harm our friendship with God, and we experience hardship, sooner or later.  We should then remember how Paul and Barnabas strengthened the spirits of the disciples in Lystra and Iconium and Antioch and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”  Hardships come from without and from within, but let us recommit to overcoming every one of them, with the help of God’s grace.  For “Behold,” Christ says, “I make all things new.”

April 24th, 2016