“Which Is Best – Easy or Hard?”
There are some today who are down on America because of the present difficult conditions in our country. They believe that life in America should always be easy and prosperous, and when things get tough, they want to complain.
But those who believe that the history of America has always been a soft bed of roses and that most all before us have had an easy road – these folks are sorely mistaken. In fact, to the contrary – studies of our U.S. history show quite clear the substantial difficulties and hardships we have faced in our nation, and have overcome.
But, here’s the question – what part does each of us play today? What part must each of us play today to help keep America great? And is it all just about getting up every day and going to work? Actually no, the greatness of America or any nation is not just about work or vocation – it’s more about this ideal of virtue. Now that’s certainly not a word we hear much today, but our founding fathers believed that virtue in our America was a necessity for our success as a nation.
But just what is virtue? According to Webster’s Dictionary, virtue is the “characteristic of promoting the collective wellbeing of society; and that our virtues actually originate from our inner most thoughts and desires.” Simply said, to successfully function in this world today, each individual must have a deeply rooted core of underlying values that drive and direct who we are.
And here’s the interesting part of virtue – our virtues are most often not tried or tested during easy times in our lives. In fact, it is actually quite the opposite.
I recently came across the writings of Abigail Adams, the wife of our second U.S. President, John Adams, and one of her quotes certainly caught my attention. Regarding virtue, Abigail Adams said this:
“It is not in the calm still of life that great characters are formed – it is the great necessities of life that call out great virtues.”
Abigail Adams wrote these words over 200 years ago when people spoke a little differently, so her words may be a little hard to follow, but in our own way of speaking today, this is what Mrs. Adams was saying:
“When life is easy; when you are safe and peaceful and secure in your circumstance; that is not the place where great character is formed. It is only during times of great hardship and difficulty that you grow in character and learn who you truly are inside.”
And, believe me, Abigail Adams knew much about hardship and difficulty and challenge, so she was speaking from a position of authority,
The message here? Let us work hard, let us strive to grow and prosper in our work, but let us realize that our greatness is not in our labor or our economy or our vocation; our strength as a person, as a nation, is in our ideals, our character, our virtues. And great virtues come from circumstances of great necessity. Therefore, let us see hardship not as a wall to block us from moving forward, but as a series of steps in a stairway to take us to a higher level in our lives.
And this is my prayer today for our America – that our present hardships as a nation, as a people – that they make us a better people – the great and good America that we should be.
Don’t Stop Praying!