Do you know someone who gets really excited about something, perhaps enough to initiate or get involved in that something, enthusiastically begins with that something, and then, when things get difficult, they quit?
I do. I know these people. Oftentimes, sadly, I am these people. These people are the ones who elevate the experiences of ease, comfort, convenience, relief, relaxation, and effortlessness as some of the highest priorities of their lives.
Honestly, for all of the good in it, this is one of the dark sides of our culture. It is generally accepted that if anything gets too difficult, too inconvenient, too painful, and generally requires too much effort, then that is a problem that needs to be fixed.
In some areas, this is just fine. For example, when a family puts in a doggie-door, out of convenience to them, to save them from 20 trips a day to the back door. That is fine. When a man goes to the store to buy a sweatshirt to wear in the winter, because the cold is painful. That is fine, too. When a student stops trying to "just remember" all of their homework, and instead writes every assignment down, because it is easier. This, and anything like it, is just fine.
But in the area of Christianity, it is not fine. Far from it. Listen, ease and comfort are not in of themselves bad things. But when these priorities interrupt your steadfastness in pursuing God's things, they most certainly are. They become enemies.
See, Christians are called to live in, like, and for Christ, come what may. We are called to make disciples even when it takes us through discomfort. We are called to love God and love others even when it is inconvenient.
We have a purpose, and when the pursuit of that purpose costs us, the Christian gladly (even joyfully) endures pain and suffering for that purpose.
Like Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Hebrews later explains that Jesus endured the suffering of the cross, willingly, because the purpose he was pursuing was worth it.
A mandatory move that every Christian must take is the move from desiring "ease and comfort" more than the purposes of God. Paul so believed this, that he even considered purposeful pain a blessing! He says, "It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him." (Phil 1:29)
Peter, our guide for this summer series we are in, calls this quality "perseverance" or "steadfastness". And every Christ follower develops it. Have you?