Do Hard Things

Last night I dreamed a dream. Three weeks and one day of school. I dreamed I couldn’t keep going. I wanted to stop. My head swam with ideas. I think, I study, I write. That 89%–I want 90%. What am I willing to give? “It’s hard. It’s hard.” I muttered. “You have to keep going. You can’t give up. You have to keep going.”

I raced a race; One hundred meters to go; Five kilometers already behind me; Now ninety meters to go. Lactic acid weighed. Lungs screamed. Muscles throbbed. “It hurts. It hurts.” I grimaced. “You have to keep going. You can’t give up. You have to keep going.”

They faced discrimination. Though, there was no finish line in sight. Ninety-seven years gone by. Would it be ninety-seven years forward? They faced the “horrors of police brutality (Martin Luther King),” “their childrens’ dignity was stripped with signs stating for white’s only (MLK).” They had to keep going. They could not, rather would not, give up “by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred…or [by] allowing their creative protests to degenerate into physical violence (MLK).”

I live this life. You live your life. We all ask why. Why the pain? Why the suffering? Why the discrimination? Why must we keep going? This is not how it was supposed to be.

Three weeks and one day left of school. Oh it overwhelms the mind. The battle is real. The day is never done. Can the war be won? U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., said, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.”

The struggle is real; to keep afloat; to master the sea; to paddle down the books which swell up as large as the largest waves. Three weeks and one day of school left. Can you hear the seagull now? The calm is coming. Do you remember that after every storm there is a calm? Three weeks and one day later, the storm is over and the mind has gained what cannot be lost.

Seventy meters to go. The heart is near bursting. Like a war horse my feet pound the earth. “With shaking and rage [I] race over the ground; [I] sense the battle from afar (Job 39:19-25).” The battle line behind and the barrier ahead. Sixty meters to go. Can I hold on? Before the race began lungs breathed deeply. All people shared the life air: carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and water all blended in the perfect percentages. Now the runner beside my ragged stride seems to suck all atmosphere away. For a fleeting moment, the body says “give it to her.” Give her the win. The mind says no. Five thousand fifty meters accomplished and you would throw it all away? The mind says, “whatever you do, don’t do it half way (Bob Beamon).” Forty meters left. “Suffer hardship[3] endure all things [10] (2 Timothy).” Thirty meters stretch ahead. “He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might, He increases power (Isaiah 40: 29).” Ten meters, can I hold on?

They faced discrimination. Though, there was no finish line in sight. They were treated as property. Like Jesus as an unborn baby, they were denied lodging in the hotels and motels after long days of travel. They were “stripped of their dignity…robbed of there self-hood (MLK).” Under Dr. Martin Luther King they rightly pleaded their case. “We will never be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream (MLK). 1963 [was] not an end, but a beginning (MLK).” 2015 is not an end, but a continuation, in the struggle for freedom.

Again people beg the question. If some suffering has no end, why continue on in perseverance and noble struggle to attain the unattainable? What is true is true. The truth is even if people refuse to accept it truth doesn’t lie. People do. As Dr. Martin Luther King so beautifully said, “we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force…unearned suffering is redemptive.”

Did Jesus receive what he deserved? Should he have been whipped in public, stripped of His dignity, robbed of His self-hood, crowned with thorns, spat upon by soldiers, forsaken by His father, nailed to a cross, mocked by the soldiers, speared in the side? Why?

“Unearned suffering is redemptive.” We are redeemed.

Three weeks and one day of school. I say to myself, “there are those who don’t even have the opportunity to school.” One meter left, one stride, and I collapse across the finish line. Right now, people are persecuted for their beliefs; 70,000 Christians imprisoned, 180 Christians martyred per month. The years 1939-1945 wiped 5.7 million Jews off the face of the earth.

Nesse Godin, a holocaust survivor, lovingly responds “As wrong as they were, how cruelly and abominably wrong they were, I forgive them.”

“Unearned suffering is redemptive.”

Doing hard things sometimes is not a matter of choice, but the response to hard things is.

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