I admit that I have been feeling a little overwhelmed lately with various trials in my life. I have had a few moments of discouragement which is, fortunately, a rarity for me. So after moping for a couple of days, I took Monday off this week to regroup. I decided that I was acting like Elijah did in 1 Kings 19 and the truth is that God’s people are never supposed to crawl under a broom tree, give up and quit. There’s just too much work to be done, too many people who need help to sit around and feel sorry for myself. As Jesus told His disciples, “The fields are white for harvest.” (John 4:35) and “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” (Luke 10:2). Rather than dwell on the difficulties, I need to focus on the opportunities.
So I decided that what was needed was a closed door, an open Bible and time on my knees. As always, these have refocused and refreshed me. I have been revived, O Lord, according to Your Word! And as often seems to be the case, God sent me a gentle reminder. Today I went to check in on one of my favorite preacher blogs – Steve Higginbotham’s – and found this story that God brought my way just when I needed it:
An older man once sat in on a class in a Bible College. That day the professor asked his students to share a verse that means a great deal to them. The students were eager to oblige. They offered many great verses, rich with theological implications. When the class finished, the professor asked the visiting man if he would like to share his favorite verse. He agreed and said, “My favorite verses in the Bible are the ones that begin with the phrase, ‘and it came to pass.’”
A few snickers could be heard among the prideful students so the elderly man added an additional comment. He said, “Young men, allow me to explain why I answered as I did. You see, when I was 32, our firstborn son was killed by a drunk driver. My wife and I were devastated. We didn’t know how we would go on, but we did. At the age of 45, our daughter came home on a break from college, sat her mother and me down, and proceeded to tell us why she no longer believed in God. She told us that God was merely an invention of man intended to be a crutch for the psychologically weak, and that she wanted no part of it. We found this to be more painful than the death of our son. At the age of 55, I lost my job. Due to my age at the time, I couldn’t find a job. Everyone wanted to hire someone younger than me. Consequently we lost our home, and for six months we were forced to live in our car. Then at the age of 63, we discovered that my wife had cancer. For three years we fought that cancer as hard as we could, but my wife eventually died. So you see young men, the events that have taken place in my life have caused to appreciate and love the verses that begin with the words, “and it came to pass,” for they are a reminder to me that the horrible circumstances in which we sometimes find ourselves don’t “come to stay,” they “come to pass.”
After the man finished, you could have heard a pin drop. The class was no longer snickering because they learned a valuable lesson. You’ll have many things “came to pass” in your life, but thank God they won’t “come to stay!”
Not only was Brother Higginbotham’s story one that I really needed, it also reminded me of something else: the continuing obligation we all have to encourage one another, to build each other up and be an example to our brothers. All of us have difficulties in our lives. We all face struggles and trials of many kinds. Yet, we often get through these because of the Godly example of a brother who has ‘been there and done that’.
Sunday morning we will examine the instruction that Paul gave to his young protégé Timothy to “set the believers an example”. I hope that our lesson leads us all to examine ourselves and ask the very important questions, “What kind of example am I? Is the way I live, the way I talk, the way I handle issues in life a help or a hindrance to my brothers?”