Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rejoice in tribulation!

            A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer's well. The farmer heard the mule 'braying', or whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.
            Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back -- he should shake it off and step up! This he did, shovel-full after shovel-full.  "Shake it off and step up . . . shake it off and step up . . . shake it off and step up!" he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought "panic" and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up! It wasn't long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like it would bury him, had actually blessed him -- all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity. (Source – Jeff Steele)
            That’s character. If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity - the adversities that come along to bury us have, within them, the potential to benefit and bless us! Our Lord tells us through the Apostle Paul, “…rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:4-5).
            When adversities strike our lives, when we face a troubled marriage, when we are told that we have cancer, when we find out we have lost our job, we can give up or persevere. We can ask the Lord for help and strength or try to do it alone.
            Recognize the fact that trials and difficulties, while difficult, make us stronger. They are a blessing in the hand of our Lord. James puts it this way, “ Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy! For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow!” (James 1:2,3).