Best of Times or Worst of Times? It's Your Call

Every one of us may answer that differently but still, we would prefer our lives to run along smoothly. 

Blog. Construction worker. 4.14Please raise your hand if that describes your life. Hmm.

Okay then, let's consider the question from a different angle. Did you ever consider what your tough times taught you? Or watch that play out for someone else? 

I learned a big life lesson from our long-ago friend Bill. He and his wife were part of a small group of friends who got together every couple of weeks. We often talked about our lives, our problems and how we as Christians could deal with them. 

Whatever the situation, Bill's opinion seldom wavered. He believed the trials that test our will and our strength created a situation where our faith could shine through. 

Plain-spoken Bill always managed to insert his favorite truth:

"When the rubber meets the road, what's inside us will show up."

Then a huge pothole opened up in front of Bill     

When our group met that week Bill seemed distracted. Finally he said, "This has been one tough week and I'm glad it's over!" 

Then Bill spelled it out for us:   

As a building contractor, he had survived more than one economic challenge by barely hanging on. Then demand picked up, so he hired a few sub-contractors. Two of them never showed up and the third guy did shoddy work.  

Then building materials were delivered to his warehouse and on inspection turned out to be sub-standard. 

In one of his buildings careless renters set their apartment on fire, which spread to adjoining units in another building he managed.

"All this in one week?" I asked.

"Yeah. Problems are nothing new, but usually I have some breathing space."  

Somebody asked how he managed to keep going and keep on trusting, even when it seemed everything had turned sour.

Bill thought a bit, then said, "Guess I have enough smarts to learn from life and trust God to get me through."

Then the rubber hit Bill's road, big time 

His doctor delivered a shock. Results of recent tests showed that Bill's "little problem" was a life-threatening health crisis.

He sought out the best medical treatment he could afford. Extensive surgery and arduous treatments followed, but Bill followed instructions precisely. He and his wife came to church as often as he was able, Bill walking slowly and leaning on a cane. His face looked pale and drawn, but still he smiled. 

Still spoke faith and encouragement to the rest of us. 

Again and again my husband and I watched this one man lift the spirits of everyone who glimpsed him or who was within range of his voice. 

"Hey, it's just life," Bill would say. "God is in charge and I am at peace. I'm keeping my eyes on Him. However He works it out, I win." 

That's true for the rest of us, too

We moved several months later but the last I heard, Bill had recovered his health and energy.

I think of him when I read again what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13:

 ... I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. NIV

Paul's "circumstances" were no slice of angel food cake. Just read 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 to read of Paul's floggings, beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks and being left for dead many times.

Was that how Paul learned to be content?

Surely Paul must have had times of feeling alone and abandoned

That's when he clung to Jesus, as he wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:7-10:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.   NIV

Are you wondering about the "jars of clay?" Paul knew Scripture backwards and forwards and was referring to Genesis 2.

That's where God created the first human being (Adam) out of the dust of the earth, remember?

Our friend Bill lived the truth of Paul's words

Even on his worst days, this down-to-earth guy presented a ready smile to the world. We Christian friends knew what kept Bill going. He drew on the light of Jesus and the strength of Jesus within him.   

Like the Apostle Paul, Bill kept his eyes on Jesus rather than on himself and what was going on in his life. When he slipped up--and he did, of course, being human--he went back to what he believed, asked God's help and began again.

With evidently no self-pride or aim to impress, Bill simply lived his life as a man who depended on Jesus living within him to get him through his days.

You know that saying that we believers are to be "little Christs" in the world we live in?  

Bill just being Bill lived out that truth and everyone around him wanted what he had.

He believed the truth of Ephesians 2:10 every day

It's all ours for the taking, if we, like Bill, keep our eyes on the One who promises to enable us and be our strength:

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.    Psalm 73:26  NLT

He depended on God and His power, not on his own--and said so. He left everyone who knew him an unforgettable model for living. 

Simply said, Bill chose to have the best of times--even in his worst of times. 

I pray your life is good, my friend, and your heart is at peace,


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