I was acquainted with two men. Both were strong-willed, determined individuals. Both were injured severely in a work-related accident. Both received grim diagnoses from their doctors.
The first man was told that he could die as a result of his wounds, and that if he did happen to survive he would certainly never be able to work again. He said, ”I had to will myself to live.” He was hospitalized for a very long time, followed by a long recovery at home. He suffered much pain and weariness. But through it all he maintained an attitude of trust in Jesus. He declared he would serve the Lord no matter what, and worked hard to regain his strength.
The second man was told that he would survive, but would need much therapy to regain his former physical abilities. He complained about the pain and stubbornly refused to exercise his injured limbs. He became angry at God, as well as the people around him.
The first man recovered, even though his injuries had been much more extensive than the other’s. Not only did this spunky elderly gentleman walk again, he was able to do hard physical labor. He set to work to construct an outdoor sanctuary where people could witness God’s beautiful creation and learn life-changing spiritual truth. He endeared himself to his wife and family, his church, his community and even to strangers.
The second man became more and more reclusive, shutting out those who loved him most and accomplishing nothing of lasting value.
I asked myself, “What made the difference? Why was one man able to look optimistically at the days ahead, while the other viewed his future with pessimism? What enabled one to accomplish more than anyone expected and what caused the other to not even reach the simplest of goals? ”
I believe the answer is obvious. Jesus made the difference. One chose to believe in God’s love and power and goodness. The other chose to focus on earthly circumstances and negative feelings and failed to lean on a loving heavenly Father.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. “(Psalm 91:14, 15)
I hope I never suffer an accident such as these men did. But I realize that I daily face my own difficult challenges… situations that seem impossible, problems that seem insurmountable. The choice is mine as to how I will respond. I can be like the first man and choose to trust Jesus with a thankful attitude, or like the second and be overcome by my trials and disappointments.
I know exactly which one I want to be!