It isn’t always easy.

“Just because God has a plan doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy…I’m scared”. A quote from Mary, in the kids movie, The Star. A pretty simple and yet profound statement coming from an (amazing) animated movie about Christmas.

Why is it that we tend to think the opposite? Maybe it’s just me, but deep down in my heart, I sometimes think if I’m following God, obeying Him, serving Him, loving on others, that life will be easy. Or easier I guess. After all, there are deep seeded beliefs in my mind, that tell me, if I do all those things, follow God’s plan and direction for my life, it will go well for me. If I’m where God wants me to be, it will be easy, smooth, there will be no doubts, no problems, no hardships, no safety concerns, you name it.

I don’t think that’s necessarily true anymore. I don’t know when exactly the shift in my thinking began, but it’s been a slow and gradual shift over several years.

It’s why verses like Acts 14:22 make me feel squirmy. “We must suffer many hardships to enter the kingdom of heaven.” I don’t like that verse. It’s not very catchy; I have yet to spot that on a banner at any church! Who wants to sign up for something knowing ahead of time that it’s going to be really difficult?

Expect hardships, Jess, when you follow Jesus. Expect suffering. Expect to be let down, to loose, to not understand, to be betrayed, to be hurt, embarrassed…whatever “many hardships” might encompass. I think it might be broad on purpose, so that we are not surprised when it comes. So we don’t turn away, blame God, shut Him out. Cause if we’re being honest, that’s our tendency isn’t it? Or we turn around and think we must be out of His will if hard things come our way. What IS that? Why do we believe that? Why is that our default when things get hard? We should expect that life will get a little harder when we chose to follow Jesus.

I’m pretty sure life wasn’t exactly peachy and perfect for Mary and Joseph. They had clear and direct information from angels. But trying to explain a virgin birth to family, friends, strangers? Mary, knowing she was giving birth to the Messiah and she can’t even get a room or a bed to do that in? Having to flee for their lives, and travel with a newborn, because King Harod wanted to kill Jesus? And that’s just the beginning of their story!

So as I watched the story of Christ’s birth unfold in this children’s version in The Star, it made me feel, well, like a stinker. Cause I was sitting on my couch thinking, oh my goodness, if that was me, and I was pregnant with God’s son knocking on doors to try and find a place to birth His child that is actively trying to come out of me, I think I’d loose it. I’d for sure be questioning God’s plan, why He didn’t seem to be providing, if I heard the angel right in the first place.

But when God told Mary the plan, He didn’t say it was going to be easy.

So I’m thankful for the reminder. I’m thankful to be reminded that God’s plan for the birth of Jesus and the whole amazing Christmas story wasn’t easy. But it was God’s perfect plan. And if His plan for His very own son wasn’t easy, then I need to remember that the plan He has for my life probably isn’t easy either. And the plan He has for your life probably isn’t a skip and hop through easyville. Maybe you’re living smack dab in that not so easy part right now. And that is crappy, and maybe even feels unfair. But, it’s His perfect plan, and it’s what He created you to do. And just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong place. It might mean, you’re exactly where God wants you to be.