A young friend was recently telling me about the challenges he had faced the previous week. He wrestled through them just fine, but his question to me was, “Does it get easier as you get older?”
As I squirmed to come up with a more meaningful response than the obvious, “no”, the slight ache in my leg from the previous day’s four mile run provided the answer.
It occurred to me that we’re often deceived by the idea that if we just live our lives righteously and put our trust in God, we’ll be rewarded with the easy, comfortable, hassle-free life of the American Dream. In that scenario, getting through a trial in a way that pleases God gives us points toward our own comfort. Or it becomes a box we can check off on our life’s to-do list: Please God through a trial, check — now I don’t have to do that again, right?
But the goal of seeking my own comfort is night and day different than the goal of seeking to glorify God as much as possible with my life.
Here’s the running analogy: When I started running earlier this year, I could run one mile before I’d drop. It was hard. As I continued doing that regularly, running one mile got easier. So if my goal is to run one mile, the answer is “yes”, it gets easier.
But my running goal is a 13.1 mile half-marathon. So my running practices have not become easier, they are as hard as they were at the beginning, sometimes harder. But four miles now is about as hard as one mile was at first, so I get a much bigger return for my pain and effort.
That’s the result I’m after in life: Not more comfort, but more glory to God from my responses. I’m not seeking or expecting the route of least pain, I’m seeking the route of most gain for God.
So whether I experience the extreme of pain and hardship, the extreme of comfort and ease, or anything in between, may God be pleased with how I respond to every circumstance. That’s the goal that gives meaning to my life!
 (Note: I’m not really highly motivated by running. I serve on the board of Up and Running Again, a ministry that trains people in homeless shelters to run a half-marathon. My motivation in running is to experience our program first-hand.)