It was a fun and exhilarating experience for me as I threw each can over the fence until a man walked by who started yelling at me. He said something about damaging the cars and what a nuisance kids are these days. I remember as I heard that man’s voice, I had two objections to his reaction. First, I did not see any damage to the vehicles as the beer cans bounced off the vehicles. Those vehicles just simply drove on. Second, he used the word “kids” in plural. There was no one else with me as I accomplished this task. After some more yelling the man just walked away after giving me a warning. Then I threw one more can and ran in the other direction as I saw that man turning around to me.
It was in my late teens that I heard the saying: “Life is not out to break you but to make you.” This statement has helped me tremendously over the ears as I faced numerous struggles in life. I would remember the words of Jesus: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33ESV)
When the pain became physical and I was bed-ridden for months at a time, I began to question my own perspectives. “Maybe life is out to break me, not to make me.” I helped so many others to find hope, but I ended up in a hopeless situation.
Through numerous tragedies in her life, Lee Ezell in her book,Finding Hope When Life’s Not Fair, says: “…it may be way too early to judge whether or not this catastrophe in your life will ultimately be devastating. Perhaps you will soon see how God is working it into His plan for you! Both the good and the bad may be woven together into the beautiful tapestry of our life.”
So what if you think life is out to break you, not make you? Remember that Jesus has overcome the world and he offers us his peace. If you can wait long enough, he works it out in our lives so that it becomes something beautiful in his eyes, either here on earth or beyond.
How have you handled your situations where you felt that life is out to break you, not make you? Do you have suggestions for others in the same situation?
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Photo credit michael pollakCreative Commons.
His wife had similar characteristics as well. Even while she battled cancer, she was determined to remain standing during the entire worship time. It was her own way of expressing her heart’s gratitude to what God has done in her family through the years.
Growing older doesn’t have to be a scary and difficult situation. Sure, as you move up in years, you’ll have more physical limitations. But instead of being discouraged, it should be a time to re-focus your approach.
Several years ago I wrote a blog post called Has Life Begun? I had just turned forty that day, and wanted to share some of my thoughts. The most significant idea for me was that I wanted to focus my time and energy on things I am “made” for. The idea is to focus on the core of what you do, the most essential matters only. Let all other things have a secondary status.
When you try to do everything as before, the situation becomes problematic. You just may not have the energy or stamina as in your earlier years. Make your goals more realistic with the primary focus on the essentials. These essentials are in effect what you are “made” for.
All the experiences you’ve had over the years have built you and prepared you for the important task of focusing on your essentials. Now, it is time to narrow your focus and put in your best. Your later years can be the most strategic and productive.
What are the things you feel you are “made” for?
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Photo by mcohen.chromiste Creative Commons
Several years ago I was talking to a young man about someone I knew who had an accident and the doctors were ready to amputate one leg from above the knee. The severity of the situation and the possible future consequences just overwhelmed this young man as he pondered the issue. Then he responded and said: “I would rather die than face something like that.”
It was another afternoon of weariness, sleepiness, and the struggle to stay awake and study. My college days were a constant struggle for survival as I worked a job most nights till four in the morning. A few hours in the afternoon was all I had to study and to sleep. That was a difficult choice to make when tests were coming up and assignments and papers were due, but sleep was important as well.
One particular afternoon the door to my room opened without a knock. My friend walked in and sat down silently for a few minutes. Although I kept reading I was waiting to hear him speak up and say something. Not a word was spoken as he sat there in silence. After several minutes he got up quietly and left. I began to wonder why he came and why he had said nothing at all. That’s when I realized that my weariness and sleepiness was gone. Most importantly, there was a sense of self-pity that was increasing that day as I struggled to stay awake and study, after which I would be returning to work for another night of physical labor. Suddenly I realized that the self-pity had lifted and I felt refreshed. All of that just because a friend walked into my room and sat silently for a few short minutes?
There was a man whose first response to tragedy was worship. He lost all his children and his entire wealth in one day. When the reality of this tragedy struck him, his first response was worship. With his life experience he knew there was no hope anywhere else. So why bother? The only logical and fruitful response for him was worship. “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped” (Job 1:20 ESV). Many years ago, Philip Yancey impacted my thinking greatly through his book Where is God When it Hurts? It’s a challenging book that changed my thinking and my responses to life as well. But the struggle continues as I train myself to shift my focus from my problems to God.
How have you responded to tragedy?