Life at its best: Looking on the bright side of life
By Jim Graff
We've all heard the old adage, "When it rains, it pours."
In other words, sometimes things are bad . and sometimes they're really bad. I remember going through one of these "really bad" times just after my 25th birthday.
I was home for a few weeks visiting my parents in Pennsylvania. My mom had gone to the doctor for what she'd assumed to be cataracts in one of her eyes, but the diagnosis turned out to be quite different.
Instead of cataracts, she was diagnosed with liver cancer and was given just six months to live.
Even worse, four months into her treatment, my dad had a sudden heart attack and passed away.
Then, a few months later and only weeks before my wedding, my mom passed away, as well.
Needless to say, this was a very difficult time in my life. I remember thinking, "God, if you want to bless me, now would be a great time."
But, thank God, I had parents who taught me to look beyond problems to the possibilities that right choices could bring into my life.
I knew that in the midst of this challenging time, I needed to keep a perspective of praise. And if I did, I was confident God would work in amazing ways.
Psalms 50:23 says, "He who sacrifices thank offerings honor me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God."
Keeping an attitude of praise in hard times is definitely a sacrifice, but it's what allows God to take us into better places.
Nehemiah understood the value of perspective. He was in a tough circumstance in his own life when, as a Jewish exile living in Babylon, he was watching his own country be destroyed.
The walls around Jerusalem had been broken down, and the capital city had become defenseless against enemy forces. Israel was void of strength, identity and peace.
Nehemiah was desperate to see this change. He wanted his homeland restored to prosperity, just as God had promised. So he wept, fasted and prayed for God to help him make a difference.
Nehemiah was granted permission by the king to go back and begin rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. In fact, he not only got permission from the king, but he got his provision and protection as well.
So Nehemiah gathered the people of Israel, and in just 52 days, they rebuilt the entire wall of Jerusalem. There was an incredible amount of opposition to face, but they didn't quit.
In fact, Nehemiah is the one in Scripture who reminds us that, "the joy of the Lord is our strength." He understood that keeping an attitude of joy is what gives us the strength to move forward into God's best.
So don't let the rain keep you from seeing the rewards God has in store. Trust what he can do, and you, too, will be amazed.
Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria, Texas. faithfamilyvictoria.com