by David DeFord
In the past two years I have suffered many serious challenges. At the beginning of this tough time I endured an intense job challenge. For twelve long months I labored night and day under terrible strain. Then, due to a sweep of all senior management, I lost my job. A few months later my father passed away after years of suffering from emphysema and lung cancer. Then, my wife underwent serious and difficult surgery. Next, my volunteer service to the refugees from Sudan took several difficult turns, including a week in which Kathy and I went into hiding because of serious death threats. And most recently, the stork delivered our grandson Wyatt seven weeks too early. Our precious little guy remains in intensive care.
Everyone endures trials. Usually they come less rapid-fire, but we all suffer from life’s challenges. Business failures, wayward children, sicknesses, injuries, death of loved ones, or financial ruin can strike anyone. These challenges can tear us down or they can build us up. We choose.
Why do we face adversity? What can we gain from our difficulties? The most pertinent answers to these questions spring from deep spiritual principles. But this isn’t the forum to discuss them. If you want to read my thoughts on these questions from a spiritual point of view, go to my companion article at http://www.ordinarypeoplecanwin.com/spiritualchallenges.htm.
Hard times challenge everyone. But why?
To Help Us Appreciate the Better Times
Normally, we think little of a tall glass of ice water and a cool shower. But after mowing grass for two hours in the hot August sun we crave them.
Just as hot summer days help us appreciate the cooler days of autumn, so failure and rejection help us appreciate our later successes.
John Grisham couldn’t get his first novel, A Time to Kill, published. So he self-published and sold the books out of his car trunk. Louis L’Amour received 350 rejections before his first sale. He later went on to have more than 200 million copies in print. Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book was rejected by twenty-seven publishers. Mary Higgins Clark received forty rejections, Jack London 600, and Alex Haley received one rejection per week for four years.
I feel sure these early rejections made sweeter their million dollar contracts.
To Build Our Strength and Endurance
Beginning runners strain at jogging a mere mile. But after months of marathon distance training they can run fifteen miles as an easy day.
Our trials can help us build our strength and endurance so that we can endure the later challenges in our lives, and they help us propel ourselves to greater achievement.
Consider Roger Bannister. As a young man, he suffered the crippling effects of polio and was told that we would never walk. By drawing on this adversity to push himself to greatness, he became the first man to run a sub-four-minute mile. His affliction propelled him to the greatest track feat in history.
To Teach Us Valuable Life Lessons
From our misfortunes we can learn such lessons as:
• We reap what we sow
• We must honor our promises
• The good life is more than gaining wealth, and
• Leave plumbing to the professionals (I speak from personal experience on this one.)
To Help Us Have Greater Empathy for Others
After experiencing many of life’s challenges, we feel more understanding and empathy in the trials of those around us. We seek to help them through their difficulties, and we can better comfort and encourage them.
We can convert our hard times into the good life. We need only learn from our challenges and turn them to our advantage.
Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever. Isak Dinesen
Prosperity discovers vice, adversity discovers virtue. Francis Bacon
Victory is sweetest when you've known defeat. Malcolm Forbes
When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. Alexander Graham Bell
Most successful people can identify one minute, one moment, where their lives changed, and it usually occurred in times of adversity. Willie Jolley
The most extraordinary thing about the oyster is this. Irritations get into his shell. He does not like them. But when he cannot get rid of them, he uses the irritation to do the loveliest thing an oyster ever has a chance to do. If there are irritations in our lives today, there is only one prescription: make a pearl. It may have to be a pearl of patience, but, anyhow, make a pearl. And it takes faith and love to do it. Henry Emerson Fosdick
I have recently entered into an agreement with the publisher HCI. This company publishes the best-selling series, Chicken Soup for the Soul. I recently read Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul and found it very inspiring. You can go to their website by going to
Here are some of their excellent titles:
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Chicken Soup to Inspire a Woman’s Soul
Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul
Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul
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