Weekly Thought – December 14, 2021
Fred grew up moving frequently as his pastor father accepted different church assignments. They experienced financial hardships, but always kept their family compass focused on true North. During his lifetime he faced difficult career decisions, and setbacks. But he established a moral base early in life which served him well.
Setting Priorities for Troubled Times
Major troubles challenge our priorities. It also revises, and may I say – purifies. We decide what is really important. Trouble also gives us an opportunity to look at the situation realistically, assessing the odds. A friend called to tell me of his leukemia diagnosis. “I chose to ignore the spiritual things thinking I would deal with them later. I wasn’t in a hurry. Cancer changed that.”
Trouble makes us distill the essence of life. Let’s look at three ways:
1) What are the necessities? Too much of life is spent, or wasted, on the superficialities.
2) We ask ourselves, “Who am I becoming?” Often I ask someone if they are becoming who they want to be and many times the answer is “Oh, no, but I intend to – someday.”
3) How do I want to be remembered? What do I want on my tombstone? Fannie Crosby, author of thousands of hymns and choruses, asked her family for these words: “Aunt Fannie – she did what she could.”
Answering those three questions, we know how to spend our time, energy, and attention. Rather, we know how to invest, not spend, our resources. The answers will build a framework for reprioritizing. Good life management periodic inventories to insure we are making the “highest and best use.”
During the dark financial days in the 1980s, a couple came by the office to see me. They told of making a list of all their social relationships. Then they went back and created a second list of those who would be their friends if (and when) they went broke. This much shorter list represented their new list of true friends.
Their situation reminded me of the man who asked his wife, “Will you still love me after I’m bankrupt?” “Of course I will,” she answered sweetly, “and I will miss you, too.” She would not have been on the list of true friends.
In crucial situations it is important to assess the odds. When you are moving with the odds there is no question of progress, just the rate of progress. Some of my most successful friends work with the situations, not giving into the circumstances. My longtime friend Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary always his new students laugh when they give him a long story of incomplete assignments introduced with, “Under the circumstances…” Prof. always instantly responds, “Son, what are you doing under there?” When we are going against the odds it requires extra effort, more intense concentration, better vigilance, and keener intelligence because there is less margin for error.
Trouble clarifies; trouble verifies; and trouble makes a way to maturity.
This week think about: 1) Where are my troubles right now? 2) How am I growing from trouble? 3) Where am I finding strength and hope?
Words of Wisdom: “Trouble makes us distill the essence of life.”
Wisdom from the Word: “For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.” (Ecclesiastes 8:6 ESV Bible)