There were other men in the neighborhood who lived by the same faith. Many nights the conversation on our front porch turned to what to do about unpaid taxes, unpaid bills, postponed car repairs or house repairs, because there was no money.
They would talk about someone who had had his car repossessed or who had lost a home, or about standing in line for welfare checks. Frequently, they would pray together, expressing their faith in a guiding God, asking Him to comfort their friends.
They prayed for each other, too, reaffirming their own faith and asking God for peace and wisdom.
Those prayers seemed to settle everything. Nothing to worry about. Everything was in God’s hands. At least, that’s the way it seemed to me.
A NEIGHBORHOOD PROJECT
One night one of the men suggested: “We don’t have any money, but we’ve got lots of energy. Let’s build a tennis court.” Men and boys together built a clay court.
I spent many hours pulling a heavy roller. Others used rakes, hoes and shovels. After many weeks, we were done. What a day it was when the men and the boys lined up and looked at the brand new lines made of white lime.
Weren’t we proud!
We spent many happy hours playing tennis on the court made by our own hands.
These were men of faith. They didn’t know what their future held for them. But they trusted their God. These people were indestructibles. They had an optimism and a hope that carried them past the Depression, through World War II, the Korean War, various recessions since then, past the Vietnam War, and through the Energy crisis.
My neighbor, the toolmaker, had another difficult experience to weather about ten years ago. He was working for a firm that went bankrupt. In one day, he had to face up to two hard facts: his job was gone and so was the retirement plan he had contributed to for twenty years.
He met this problem with the same faith he had shown in front of us back in the ’30s. Other neighbors have faced many difficult problems since, but their faith and hope did not rest on changeable circumstances or the mistakes of other people. They also were among the indestructibles. Their source of faith and hope could best be described by another Bible quotation:
…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity… In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need (Philippians 4:11-12).
My family and some of my neighbors had found that secret.
MANY PEOPLE HAVEN’T
Many of my neighbors during the Depression were not indestructible.
One of my playmates would come running breathlessly over to our house about once a week. His mother and father were drunk again, and were beating each other.
His dad would break furniture and throw pots and pans through the window. No one could help them because they were so bitter. Their lives and property were in shambles.
Another playmate had a mother who would sit all day, stare out of the window, and cry. Her husband had run away. No one knew where he was. There were many such stories.
In my early teens, I saw people respond in different ways to the same circumstances.
HOW DO YOU BECOME AN INDESTRUCTIBLE?
How do you join the ranks of those unusual people who are contented no matter what their situation is?
How can you have a great time on a “rotten” vacation? How do you enjoy life in the face of a financial failure, a negligent husband, an unresponsive wife, job setbacks?
Or… even how do you cope with success?
How do you handle maddening daily schedules? Little, everyday irritants? A room full of screaming children?
Also, how do you handle the lonely moments or decisions when no one stands with you–not even your family and friends?
In other words: how can you find contentment right now?
There is a way.
- Is it possible for us to prevent all troublesome or sorrowful events from intruding into our lives?
- When something troubling happens to you, how do you normally respond? Examine both your outward reactions (what other people see), and your inner reactions (the way you feel inside, but people cannot see).
- When people live heartily, joyfully and considerately one day at a time, regardless of their circumstances, they are relying on their power of _______________.
- The author’s neighbor had mastered a pivotal principle: it was not the task that was important, but the ____________ he brought to that task.
- The “indestructible” people the author described were people of _____________. They didn’t know what their future held for them. But they chose to trust ______________________.
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Continue on to Lesson 2.