Life is hard and then you die.

While the exact origin of the quote may be debatable, it’s a sentiment that resonates with many people. When I was a kid, I wanted so badly to be an adult. In my mind, I’d really be free then. Free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I could stay up as late as I wanted, eat chocolate whenever I wanted, buy whatever I wanted. I’d get married and have kids and be a perfect mother and a perfect wife with a perfect husband, and we’d all live happily ever after. Basically, I’d have it made. But then I became an adult and realized that adulthood wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I discovered that I’m not a perfect wife or mom, and neither are my husband or kids perfect. As a child, I never considered things like financial struggles, job loss, relationship difficulties, sickness, or the challenges of parenting. Despite my high hopes for adulthood, my adult self knows something my younger self did not: life is hard.

Life is hard.

I recently read the book Refugee by Alan Gratz, which details the journeys of three families in different time frames: one family from Nazi Germany, another from Castro’s Cuba, and a modern-day Syrian family. It was so sad what they had to endure on their difficult journeys. As I read the book, I realized I’ve never experienced anything remotely similar to their experiences. Hopefully I’ll never be forced to flee for my life or have to make the choice to give a child away so he or she could live. All over the world, people are suffering from persecution, wars, poverty, disease, and natural disasters, to name a few. Compared to those sort of struggles, our complaints in America may seem awfully petty.

But suffering takes many different forms. Most people in America will never have to deal with abject poverty, but our struggles are real nonetheless, and take their toll mentally as people struggle daily with things like bad marriages, job difficulties, lack of family time, discontentment, or a scary medical diagnosis. One way or another we realize that we aren’t going to get a “happily ever after” here on earth. We will always struggle with something, because life is just hard.

Then you die.

Sobering, right? No matter what our struggles look like, everyone on earth shares one common destiny—death. But hold on a second. Death isn’t actually the end. Heaven awaits those who cling by faith to Jesus. Jesus knows what it is to suffer. He who is true God also became true man, humbling Himself to take on our frail human flesh. He was doubted and mocked and scorned for most of His earthly ministry. He whom the angels worship was found guilty of blasphemy and put to death on a crude Roman cross. Add to His physical suffering the fact that on that cross, God laid the guilt of the world’s sin upon Him. Jesus suffered hell on the cross, because God literally abandoned Jesus on the cross, leaving Him utterly alone with the weight of all our sins. Yes, Jesus knows what it means to suffer. He suffered greatly. And then He died.

But death could not hold Him. Three days later, He rose from the dead, triumphing over the grave. His resurrection guarantees our own. Yes, we will all die. But we will also live again.

Friend, I don’t know what your particular struggles are, but I know you have them, because, after all, life is hard. But that’s sort of a good thing, actually. We need the reminder that this earth and people in this earth can’t fill our deepest need, which is Christ. Only in heaven will we ever be truly satisfied.

Life is hard and then you die. 

And only then can you truly live happily ever after.