“Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14 NKJV).
I am planning a trip to Nepal soon to visit areas devastated by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of April 25. The Nepali friend who is helping me to plan the trip wrote saying, “We can rent a vehicle (since the) road has opened from last week. We are not trekking to the villages as advised by brothers. But since there are landslides in several places on the way we may need to walk to cross those areas in rain. So I think it would be better to have back packs, trekking boots, rain cover, and hiking sticks.”
Or in other words, we can take a truck to where we are going, sort of. There may still be several miles of rough walking, carrying whatever gear we need to take with us. That puts an entirely different perspective on everything, from deciding what to pack to questioning just how badly one wishes to go there.
An accurate saying is, “No one promised you a rose garden.” There is no innate right to ease and comfort in any particular circumstance of life. That holds true whether one lives in a free democracy or in the most rigid of dictatorships. Life is often hard. Some difficulties are optional, others impose themselves upon us regardless.
When one faces a long arduous journey he usually has a choice – to go or not to go. If the road is too long, or too hard, or involves great dangers, he can simply stay home or go somewhere else. But that choice may not always be as free as it may seem.
If one is choosing to go on vacation, it only makes sense to choose a destination which is convenient and safe to reach.
But what about those journeys which involve destinations of specific, irreplaceable, necessity? My mother-in-law had never flown and never intended to fly until her youngest daughter needed her immediately from 2,000 miles away. Suddenly the dreaded airplane was a blessing from God.
One of the marks of maturity and responsibility is that of doing what has to be done. When that decision is made, troubles and dangers become simple obstacles to overcome, not barriers which prevent action. It is all about how much we want to accomplish our objective.
Jesus makes it plain that no one will achieve eternal salvation without difficulty. Revelation 2 and 3 contain seven letters to churches in the Roman province of Asia (part of modern Turkey). Each of those letters ends with a promise of blessing and reward “to him who overcomes” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). No promise is made to one who quits because faithful living has become too hard.
In our travel through life we will all have mountains to climb, landslides to cross, turbulent storms to endure. This is the human condition. Christians will have added burdens of persecution (2 Timothy 3:12), temptation (1 Peter 5:8), and assorted tribulations (Romans 5:3).
Heaven cannot be reached by way of a smooth, paved, divided four lane highway. The road to eternity is narrow and hard. But there is no alternative, if we truly want to live forever (John 14:6). That presents us with that same key question: “Just how badly do we want to go?” If Heaven is really our goal, the difficulties will be faced and conquered.