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Christian Philosophy Lite: The obstacle course of life

Dec. 2, 2011 at 6:02 a.m.

Raymond Smith

By Raymond Smith

In the army, obstacle courses are used to train the troops and to weed out any who are unfit. These obstacle courses prepare the men for battle by acquainting them with the hardships they are likely to endure. It is also a body building exercise as they toughen up their bodies.

In this broken world, obstacles are a reality of life and are somehow a necessity for our growth. An example of this is the emergence of the butterfly. If someone opens the cocoon early, the butterfly will die, because the struggle to emerge is necessary in its development. Stories abound of people who have overcome obstacles in their life. A diving accident in 1967 left Joni Eareckson a quadriplegic in a wheel chair. Today, she is an internationally known mouth artist, a talented vocalist, a radio host, an author of 17 books and an advocate for disabled persons worldwide. The old adage says, "If life deals you lemons, make lemonade." Friedrich Nietzsche said that he who has a 'why' to live can bear almost any 'how.' Joni's faith in God gave her not only understanding, but a new vision of what she could become.

The older I get, the more I am convinced that this life is a testing ground for heavenly responsibilities. Our Heavenly Father created us with a free will and expects us to act responsibly. If we violate the rules we may create our own obstacles, yet some seem to come out of the blue. In any case, we have to deal with them head-on. Oftentimes, an obstacle can cause you to change direction, which may redound to your benefit.

There is a striking comparison between how God raises us, and how we raise our own children. During the growing up years, the children will learn from the hard knocks of life and discipline from their earthly fathers. Then, when mature, they will be better able to cope with the problems of life.

Those families who do not discipline their children produce citizens who oftentimes are a threat to society, lacking self control and purpose. The child who does not do his homework will be less fit for life than the child who was disciplined to do his. Hebrews 12:7 says, "Endure hardship as discipline, God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined, then you are not legitimate children and not true sons."

As we go through the difficulties of life we are prone to feel sorry for ourselves when trials come, but with a strong faith in God, who gives purpose in life, we can overcome. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb 12:11) Goethe said that he never experienced affliction that did not turn into a poem.

One's attitude makes all the difference. Strive for a godly attitude.

Raymond F. Smith is president of Strong Families of Victoria.

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