I’m a young man. Many of the people I minister to, give advice to, and spend the most significant amounts of time with, are young men. There’s a problem with most young men. It’s been bred into us since the fall of Adam and strengthened by a culture that promotes comfort, pleasure, and ease – we don’t like difficulty. We’ve been trained that challenges and hardships are things for movies and video games. We watch them, play them, and want to be powerful, disciplined, and strong like the heroes we see, but few and far between are those who have actually taken on themselves the work that is needed to reach those heights. More often we sleep in, stay at home, and coast.
When something hard does happen – a breakup, loss of a job, someone pointing out our shortcomings, life not going as planned – we’re crushed. We lay awake late into the night, minds rushing with how we’re going to solve the problems and get out of the hard times. We turn in on ourselves and bemoan the cruelty of the world and question what God is doing. How could, why did something like this happen to us?
The Lord is Good
To my friends who are young men, if we’re operating that way we’ve got it all wrong. Yesterday I sat down and read through the book of Lamentations which, from front to back, is about seriously difficult times. A nation being destroyed, men and women being killed, and famine so bad that women were eating their own children. Your breakup, your loneliness, your worry about the future has nothing on that.
But in the midst of that terror and trial, the writer of Lamentations makes the amazing declaration,
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth. ( Lamentations 3:25-27)
If we are to be men who God can use we need be men who, by faith, proclaim that kind of truth in the midst of our hard times. When difficulty arrives we must steel ourselves, strengthen our resolve, and declare “The Lord is good to those who wait for him.” It’s that truth, regardless of what is taking place in your life, that will sustain you.
It Is Good
But the writer of Lamentations doesn’t stop with God’s goodness in trial. He goes on to say that “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Not only is God good in the midst of difficulties, those difficulties in and of themselves have some sort of good for you.
Bear the yoke in your youth, young man. It will strengthen you for decades to come. Stop shying away from difficulty. Stop bemoaning the pain in your life. Embrace it. Stand up under the yoke with manly force of will.Your trembling legs and aching heart are signs that you are growing. Our God is a Father who disciplines those he loves. Every burden you have now is crafted by the hand of our loving, sovereign Lord to shape your character and prepare you for his blessed future.
Let go of the pride that causes you to question and search late into the night for any way to escape the pain. Instead, humble yourself and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. As Job said, shall we receive good from the hand of the Lord and not trouble? (Job 2:10) He is the one in charge. If he has seen fit to lay a burden on you, he has done it for good reasons, because “The Lord is good to those who wait for him.”
Bear the yoke, my friend. Wait quietly in faith, for the Lord is good. Let your soul seek him in trouble, endure hardship as a good soldier, knowing that our King has already won the war and is preparing us for glory.