Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
The Olympic Games held each 4 years attracts a lot of attraction around the world.
We see on our TV screens and social media some of the finest sportspeople the world has to offer. But going back in history, competing in the Olympic Games was tough business. For example the 1896 games were held in Athens, the first international Olympic Games held in modern history. The swimming events were held in the Bay of Zea. But it was not an ideal location.
Believe it or not, the swimmers were taken out to sea in row boats and tipped into the icy water running a 4-metre swell. Many had to be rescued as they attempted the one-mile swim back to shore. German competitor Alfred Hajos was 18-years-old. He had a half-inch-thick layer of grease all over his body, but it wasn’t much protection in the freezing water with heavy waves. He won the race somehow, and later said, “My will to live, completely overcame my desire to win”. It seemed to be a struggle of life or death that day in 1896. Amazing story of survival against the odds. We do admire that kind of commitment.
But the reality is, not everybody gets through the struggles of life. I’m not talking about the Olympic Games, but ordinary life, by ordinary people, like you and me.
Life’s Unexpected Curve-Balls
Life is hard—no matter who we are or where we live, trouble is just a phone call away. A doctor may say, “I’m sorry. You’ve got cancer.” Or the voice may inform you that your daughter has just been arrested. Or you may be fired without warning. Or someone you trusted may start spreading lies about you. Or your husband may decide he doesn’t want to be married anymore—the list is endless. The old saying is true: “Into each life some rain must fall”. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s more like a hurricane than a shower.
Charlie Brown in the Peanuts cartoon builds a beautiful sandcastle, works on it for hours. Finally he stands back, looks at it. It’s wonderful. Just as he’s admiring it, a storm comes up and blows over all of his sandcastle. Now, he’s standing where his beautiful masterpiece was, on level sand, saying to himself, “I know there’s a lesson in this, but I’m not sure what it is.” One thing everyone here has in common is that we have had storms come and wipe out our sandcastles.
We have all faced trials and have wrestled through the struggles of life. Some of our struggles are extremely tragic—some, by comparison, are less traumatic. But they are all real—the Bible refers to these struggles as trials. It’s then that God gives us a special kind of wisdom.
Chuck Swindoll once called wisdom “the God-given ability to see life with rare objectivity and to handle life with rare stability.” “When we operate in the sphere of the wisdom of God,” Swindoll wrote, “we look at life through lenses of perception, and we respond to it in calm confidence. There’s a remarkable absence of fear.… We can either lose our jobs or we can be promoted in our work, and neither will derail us … because we see it with God-given objectivity, and we handle it in His wisdom.”
The Carrot, The Egg and The Tea Bag
A woman complained to her father about how difficult her life had become. “What can I do about it?”, she asked. He said, “I will tell you, but first I need to show you something.” He took her into the kitchen and set three pots of water to boiling. He put carrots in the first pan, eggs in the second, and tea bags in the third. After the water had boiled for a while, he asked his daughter to examine the contents of each pot. He had her cut the carrots, peel the egg, taste the tea.
She asked her father what this meant. He said: “Each of these teach something about facing adversity. The carrot went into the boiling water hard but came out soft and weak. The egg went in fragile but came out hardened. The tea turned the water into something better.” He then asked his daughter, “When you find yourself in hot water, which will you be? Will it make you weak? Will it make you hardened? Or will you turn adversity into triumph?”
In the New Testament James wrote, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when test and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours.” (James 1:2-3 – The Message)