Philosophy Lite: Standing firm in shaky world
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This has been a year of disasters. Floods, fires and tornadoes have scarred the country with many lives lost and with a huge toll in human suffering.
We have seen pictures on TV and in the papers of people who have fallen apart from the shock of such great loss, and we have seen pictures of those who displayed a remarkable calmness and optimism.
The calm ones, I believe, understand the relative value of things, and I suspect they also have a strong religious faith.
Proverbs 24:10 says, "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." This is not to say that I do not sympathize with those who take their losses hard, it's just that I'm proud of those who can bear life's problems with faith and dignity.
Sometimes we learn the hard lessons of life from one tragic experience, while others seem to have been prepared for such shocks from childhood.
As a gardener, I have noticed that the sapling that is supported by a stake takes longer to develop a strong trunk than one that is allowed to bend before the wind.
As a wealthy nation, we're often so caught up in materialism that when our possessions are swept away, we're devastated. By the same token, if we have no religious faith, when a loved one is taken we can be overwhelmed.
God sometimes uses tragic experiences to get our attention. By trusting him, we save ourselves many a worry. The obvious point of all this is that we need a working faith in God and a saving faith in our Savior in order to cope with the problems of life.
Not one, or even a series of setbacks, need keep us from experiencing a happy and fulfilled life. Moreover, the Christian who is part of a fellowship of true believers will find ample support in his time of need.
We look for answers, and none come. We live in a broken world and see that troubles come to rich and poor, religious and non-religious, educated and non-educated.
If Christians were immune, it wouldn't take long for people to see the advantage. The difference is, we have confidence that God is in control and that he has a plan for our lives, as well as something at the end of the line that makes it all meaningful.
It wasn't Pandora who gave us hope; it was the grace of God that we have this hope to cling to.
The preponderance of near-death experiences attest to this hope, I believe.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Nazi death camps. In his famous book, "Man's Search for Meaning," (1946) he said that the prisoner who gave up hope was doomed. He gave up trying to survive and soon was dead.
Psalm 20:7 says, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." Where do you put your trust?
Raymond F. Smith is president of Strong Families of Victoria.