Overcoming Adversity

overcoming adversity
Isaiah 30:1 “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: 7 . . . Their strength is to sit still.”
Once the initial shock of an adverse situation has passed, the adversity is seldom as severe as it first appeared. The question then is, how do we overcome the adversity remaining after the shock has subsided?
When we are faced with adversity, our natural tendency is to launch into a frenzy of activity. We somehow believe that this frenzy of activity will produce positive results. Too often this frenzy obscures the problem causing the adversity, and the frenzy makes the `situation worse.
As always, the Bible tells us what to do in the midst of adversity – sit still and assess the situation. Faith in God’s Word will give to us the strength to sit still, even in the face of great adversity. Out of the strength of sitting still will come the Godly insight for us to properly assess the cause and effect of the adversity, and overcome both.


Be Filled by the Holy Spirit

filled glass
In one of his meetings, D.L. Moody was explaining to his audience the truth that we cannot bring about spiritual changes in our lives by our own strength. He demonstrated the principal like this: “Tell me,” he said to his audience, “how can I get the air out of the tumbler I have in my hand?” One man said, “Suck it out with a pump.” But Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter it.” Finally after many suggestions, he picked up a pitcher and quietly filled the glass with water. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then explained that victory for the child of God does not come by working hard to eliminate sinful habits, but rather by allowing Christ to take full possession.
Ephesians 5:18 Don’t drink too much wine, for many evils lie along that path; be filled instead with the Holy Spirit and controlled by him.


ON TOP OF THE FENCEPOST

turtle on a fencepost

Alex Haley, the author of “Roots,” had an unusual picture hanging on his office wall. It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post. When asked, “Why is that there?” Alex Haley answered, “Every time I write something significant, every time I read my words & think that they are wonderful, & begin to feel proud of myself, I look at the turtle on top of the fence post & remember that he didn’t get there on his own. He had help.”

That is the basis of thankfulness – to remember that we got here with the help of God, & that He is the provider of every blessing we have.

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

SOURCE: Melvin Newland, Minister, Central Christian Church, Brownsville, TX.



FAITHFUL INSTRUCTIONS

instruction Manual
There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance.
He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note.
The note read: “pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need”. Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveller.” The man refilled the jug and added to the note: “ Please prime the pump, believe me it works”!
We have the same choice to make, do we hold on to what we have because we don’t believe there are better things in store for us, and settle for immediate satisfaction? Or do we trust God and give up all that we have to get what God has promised us? I think the choice is obvious. We need to pour in all the water, trust God with everything.
Then once we have experienced what God has to offer, the living water, we need to tell other people, “Go ahead prime the pump, believe me it works”!
John 4:10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”


Hired hand or Owner

farm2
The story is told of a farmhand who had worked for a married couple for several years. As time went on, the couple grew older and older and they couldn’t do as much they had and the farm was beginning to look a little shabby. The paint on the barn was peeling. The fences had holes in them and slats were loose. The gravel road had potholes in it. Shingles on top of the farmhouse were beaten and weathered and needed replacing. But as the farmhand made his way to milk the cows each day, he thought: What is that to me? It’s not my farm.
Then, one day the farmer and his wife asked him to come for dinner. They told him how much he had meant to them.
They told him that they had no children to inherit the farm, so they wanted to give it to HIM when they died.
The next day, the farmhand was walking to the nursing barn, he noticed the paint on the barn. In a few days he’d painted the barn and fixed the fence, and in the next few weeks he was putting a new roof on the farmhouse and putting new gravel on the road.
Why would he do that? What made the difference in his attitude? He was now an heir. And as a Son he began to treat the old farm different than he ever had before.
And so it is with us. We are heirs to the Kingdom of God. And because we are heirs we have the joy of knowing that what we do, we do because of the fabulous gift of salvation our Father has given us.
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
(From a sermon by Jeff Strite, entitled, “Beyond Servanthood” 8/26/2012)


Jesus is NEVER too busy

r u 2 busy

“Jesus felt sorry for the blind men and touched their eyes, and at once they could see.” Matthew 20:34
It happens in business when you make products you don’t market.
It happens in government when you keep departments you don’t need.
It happens in medicine when your research never leaves the lab.
It happens in education when your goal is grades, not learning.
And it happened on the road to Jerusalem when Jesus’ disciples wouldn’t let the blind men come to Christ.
‘When Jesus and his followers were leaving Jericho, a great many people followed him. Two blind men sitting by the road heard that Jesus was going by, so they shouted, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!'”
The people warned the blind men to be quiet, but they called out even louder, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
Jesus stopped and said to the blind men, “What do you want me to do for you?”


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His Daughter Inspired Him to Talk the Talk

nervous man

My wife, Lynette, was flipping through the pile of mail on the kitchen counter. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, waving an envelope while she scanned its contents.

The letter.

I’ve been a professional truck driver for 28 years and I’ve got more than a million-and-a-half miles under my belt without an accident–something my company, Con-way Freight, took notice of.

A couple months earlier they’d nominated me to become an America’s Road Team Captain, the highest honor for a truck driver. There are more than three million drivers in the country, and just 30 finalists compete in Washington, D.C., for a dozen Captain positions.

The winners travel across the country, talking to the public about transportation and road safety. It was a title I’d dreamed of for years–and that letter was my invitation to the finals.

When I read, “Congratulations! You’ve been chosen…”


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Dad’s Angelic Visitors

friendly couple

Could it really be over 20 years since my brother, Patrick, got married? Looking at the wedding album in his living room, it seemed like yesterday. “I always loved that blue dress you wore,” Patrick’s wife, Melissa, said, pointing to a picture of me in a tea-length gown with puffy sleeves.

“There’s Mom and me dancing,” said Patrick, turning the page.

“I almost expect to see Dad,” I said. “Even though he couldn’t be there.”

“You know who else it makes me think about?” Patrick said. “Winnie and Fred. Do you remember them?”

“I’ll never forget them,” I said.

We hadn’t talked about the couple in years, but hearing their names brought me back to that spring of 1983. My father had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He lived at home with Mom, who was a registered nurse.

She cared for him with the help of hospice nurses. That way Dad could still enjoy some things he loved. From a hospital bed set up in the living room, Dad could talk to Mom, read or play solitaire.

Some days he felt strong enough to play his organ. Dad was a professional musician and never liked to be far away from his Hammond B3.

I visited Dad in June. We chatted about Patrick’s upcoming wedding, which Dad insisted go on as planned. Before I left he wrote me a check for a new dress. “Look your best, kid,” he said as he handed it to me.

His voice, once so rich and familiar, was already so weak he barely made any sound at all.

Dad wanted us to focus on Patrick and Melissa, but all I could think about was him. I’d lost so much of him already: the brightness in his eyes, the sound of his voice. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d heard that belly laugh of his. What I wouldn’t have given to hear it again.

I chose a tea-length silk blue gown and took it to Dad’s house to model it for him. He gave me a thumbs-up from his hospital bed. I’d just finished changing when the doorbell rang. A couple I’d never seen before stood on the stoop.

“I’m Winnie,” the woman said. Her smile was so natural and friendly it was clear she smiled a lot. “This is my husband, Fred. We just moved into the neighborhood.”

I shook hands with them both. “We had to meet whoever made all the beautiful music,” said Fred.

I introduced them to Mom and Dad. Winnie complimented Dad on his playing. Within moments I saw Winnie’s smile reflected on Dad’s face.

Winnie and Fred were still there when I left, chatting with Dad about music. They seemed to have no trouble hearing his voice despite how weak it was. In fact, his voice sounded a little stronger since they’d come. “I’ll see you soon,” I said, kissing Dad good-bye.

 “Winnie likes cards as much as your dad,” Mom told me a few days later. “The two of them played for hours yesterday. Much longer than the other nurses or I can take. Dad absolutely loved it.”

Patrick, Melissa and I got used to seeing Winnie at the house. Sometimes she was with Fred, sometimes she came by herself. “Your dad’s telling me about his amazing career,” Winnie said one afternoon as I came in. Dad was at the organ taking her song requests. “I’m a nurse, myself.”

 Dad shrugged modestly, but his blue eyes sparkled, the way they used to before he got sick. “Winnie sure has a great effect on Dad,” I told Mom as we made coffee in the kitchen. “I didn’t know she was a nurse.”

“Even if she wasn’t a nurse she’d still be a big help,” said Mom. “Have you noticed the difference in Dad when he’s with her?”

“It’s like he lights up whenever she’s with him,” I said.

Out in the living room, Dad laughed. The great big belly laugh I hadn’t heard in ages.

“Winnie’s the only one who gets him to laugh like that,” Mom said. “The other day she arrived at the door wearing a red clown nose she’d made out of a ping-pong ball. We thought we’d never stop laughing!”

That evening I walked Winnie back to the complex of town homes where she and Fred lived. “I can’t get over hearing Dad laugh again,” I said. “I missed it so much.”

“Laughter is the most important medicine,” said Winnie. “I told your brother—find something to laugh about every single day.”

“That can be pretty hard to do sometimes,” I said quietly.

Winnie squeezed my shoulder. “I know it can be, with your father so sick. But humor keeps the soul alive and well, even in the darkest times. So I always try to find something to laugh about. Even if it’s myself!”

Winnie grinned at me and I burst out laughing. “All right, I guess I could try that,” I promised her.

She gave me a hug at the door of her town home. “I’d invite you in, but our furniture hasn’t arrived yet.”

“You don’t have any furniture?” I said. “That must be difficult.”

“Our things are on their way,” Winnie said, cheerful as always. “There’s no rush.”

I said good night, marveling at the joy Winnie seemed to find in everything. And the way she made our family feel that joy too, even at a time like this. Now when I talked about Patrick and Melissa’s wedding I was able to look forward to it.

“Maybe Dad will be able to make it to the wedding after all,” I said to Patrick one afternoon. 

 But it wasn’t to be. Dad died at home, surrounded by family and friends. We gathered at the house after the funeral. The space where Dad’s hospital bed had once sat was empty.

“Winnie and Fred arranged for it to be taken out,” Melissa said. “Wasn’t that nice?”

“They’re a miracle,” said Patrick. “How many nights did Winnie sit up with Dad so Mom could sleep?”

Across the room Winnie chatted with Mom. For the first time that day, she was almost smiling. Leave it to Winnie to give Mom something to laugh about today, I thought.

Patrick’s wedding went on as planned, just as Dad wanted. I wore my blue dress. I even found things to smile about, like remembering Dad saying, “Look your best, kid.”

I wasn’t ready to actually laugh much yet, but keeping on the lookout for happy things reminded me there was still joy in the world, even without Dad. Winnie had taught me that.

A few days after the wedding I drove over to see Mom. I brought flowers for Winnie. “Even if she’s got no furniture she can still have flowers,” I told Mom.

I had no doubt Winnie would appreciate the bright colors. I walked over to the town house and knocked on the door. “Winnie?” I called. “It’s Di. Are you in?”

There was no answer. They must be out, I thought. Then I noticed a sign on the sidewalk outside the house: Condo for Lease. I hadn’t noticed that sign when I’d walked Winnie home. Was there some sort of mistake? Were Winnie and Fred moving away already?

I walked over to the manager’s office. “That condo says it’s for lease,” I said, pointing to Winnie and Fred’s place. “Did the couple there move already? Winnie and Fred?”

“I don’t know anyone by that name,” he said. “That unit’s been empty for two months at least. Nobody’s even asked about leasing it, much less moved in!”

Twenty years later, looking at the old photo album, Patrick, Melissa and I went silent, each pondering the mystery of Winnie and Fred. We never saw or heard from them again.

“We don’t even have pictures,” I said. “It’s as if they never existed. But everything would have been so different without them.”

“They were angels,” Patrick said. “They came to help Dad, and they helped all the rest of us too.”

Was Patrick right? I guess I don’t know for sure. But when I think of angels now, I picture them wearing red clown noses. That certainly gives me something to laugh about.



A Marine Dad’s Most Important Duty

Marine

I’d been on plenty of marches in my time as a Marine, but never anything like this. My platoon today was undisciplined, stopping to kick at twigs, talking and laughing as we hiked through the woods, no one paying attention to the sound of rushing water ahead.

Then again, I expected that from a bunch of 10-year-olds.

I was about as far from the battlefield as I could get, accompanying my son, Patrick, and his fifth-grade class on a three-day field trip at Camp Classen in the Arbuckle Mountains of southern Oklahoma.

I looked down at Patrick, sitting in the three-wheel jogger I pushed in front of me. My son has cerebral palsy and 10 years ago doctors didn’t think someone with his brain damage would live, much less be hitting the trail with his classmates.


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The Extra Mile

 
extra mile

Near midnight. My wife and I were driving home from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where our son Randy was a junior English major. Rita was asleep in the passenger seat.

I headed north, wondering what on earth had possessed us to take the afternoon off to make the trek to campus and back, a six-hour round trip slogging through the towns dotting Highway 47. All for nothing.

For weeks Randy had been telling me how much fun he was having playing intramural coed flag football. Maybe it was his talk of diving catches and trick plays, but I’d felt this sudden urge to cheer him on, like we had in high school.

Just several hours earlier Rita and I had met him at the field. It was a crisp fall evening—perfect football weather. I was pumped.

Randy introduced us to his teammates. “You really came all this way just to see us?” they asked incredulously.


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