When troubles come

by Henrylito D. Tacio

“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble,” noted the book of Job (14:1). With accusing overtones Job’s friend had declared, “For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground; but man is born of trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:6).

All of us – man and woman, children and adults, rich and poor – are not immune to trouble. To live in our kind of world is to experience some kind of trouble. The amount and intensity of it varies from person to person, family to family, and time to time. But no one escapes it altogether.

If you are looking for trouble, you will more likely to find it. As David Keppel once wrote: “Better never trouble trouble / Until trouble troubles you / For you only make your trouble / Double trouble when you do / And your trouble like a bubble / That you’re troubling about / May be nothing but a cipher / With the rim rubbed out.”

“But all pretty philosophy to the contrary notwithstanding, trouble does come and sometimes it seems to come all at once and lots of it,” noted Norman Vincent Peale, one of America’s most inspirational speakers and authors. “So much so and so true is this that a basic necessity of every human being is assuredly to know how to meet trouble if and when it comes.”

When trouble comes, some people push the panic button, others lift up their hands, and a few throw in the towel. Many moan and groan and complain. One person is trounced; the next triumphs. What makes the difference? The answer is simple. Some have inner reserves and resources for meeting troubles. Others do not.

But there are those who do not only survive but also triumph. Take the case of Abraham Lincoln. He was raised in an abject poverty. He struggled through political defeat after defeat. He lost the love of his life. But all these did not deter him to become the 16th president of the United States.

According to Peale, most of the troubles in our lives are self-manufactured, “caused by conditions or by other people but by ourselves.” As such, he urged that it is wise “to condition our mind to the non-production of trouble.”

But the question is how? To drive his point, Peale told this story: “Once, playing golf with Lowell Thomas, he made a statement to me that has lingered in my mind. We were preparing to drive from a tee alongside a deep woods which ran the entire length of the fairway. Just in front was a deep ravine.”

Lowell turned rather extremely to the left, the woods on his right, but an even fairway to the left of the ravine and addressed the ball. He drove the ball cleanly away from the woods and safely at the side of the ravine for over two hundred yards. Picking up his tee, he remarked, “It’s always best to shoot away from trouble.”

But as stated earlier, we cannot escape from troubles. “No one should surrender to trouble, letting it crush him,” suggests Robert W. Young. “At the same time, no one should resent trouble as though it were an intruder. Trouble is a natural part of life. Consequently, it is wise to accept trouble and beat it without complaining.”

“Trouble is what gives a fellow his chance to discover his strength – or lack of it,” states Frank A. Clark. When he was still alive, New Jersey Governor Charles Edison told a vignette about his famous father, a man of resilient, undefeatable spirit. Of course, you know who I am talking about – Thomas Alva Edison. Here goes the story:

On the night of December 9, 1914, the great Edison Industries of West Orange was virtually destroyed by fire. Thomas Edison lost two million dollars that night and much of his life’s work went up in flames. He was insured for only US$238,000 because the buildings had been made of concrete, at that time thought to be fireproof.

“My heart ached for him,” Charles said. “He was 67 – not a young man anymore – and everything was going up in flames. He spotted me. ‘Charles,’ he shouted, ‘where’s your mother?’ ‘I don’t know, Dad,’ I replied. ‘Find her,’ he told me. ‘Bring her here. She will never see anything like this again as long as she lives.’”

The next morning, walking about the charred embers of all his hopes and dreams, Thomas Edison said, ‘There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”

And three weeks after the fire, his firm delivered the first phonograph! “Now that’s the story of a man who had learned how to face the adversities and disasters of this human existence. He also knew that 67 years were in the past… that the loss of money was nothing really, because there was hat inner strength that would allow him to build again,” Charles concluded his story.

“The tests of life are to make, not break us,” wrote Maltbie D. Babcock. “Trouble may demolish a man’s business but build his character. The blow at the outward man may be the greatest blessing to the inner man. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is what we shall lose if we flinch or rebel.”

An unknown author penned: “Two men looked through prison bars – one saw mud, the other stars.” A Chinese proverb is more creative: “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor men perfected without trials.” In other words, in the presence of trouble, some people grow wings while others buy crutches. Which are you?

Marcel Proust once urged: “We do not succeed in changing things according to our desire, but gradually our desire changes. The situation that we hoped to change because it was intolerable becomes unimportant. We have not managed to surmount the obstacle, as we were absolutely determined to do, but life has taken us round it, led us past it, and then if we turn round to gaze at the remote past, we can barely catch sight of it, so imperceptible has it become.” — ###

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