One of the characteristics of the human condition is that we're exhilarated and active when things are going well, but we're often paralyzed with depression when they are not. There's an old folk song that begins, "Sometimes I'm up, and I'm sometimes down." We swing between a sense of elation and despair, calm reason and uncontrollable anger. Can you sense how destructive this becomes? We alienate friends, damage our careers, and even destroy ourselves emotionally and physically worrying over external circumstances.
It's those who are geared for the long pull that keep this unpredictable world from coming apart. These are the ones who hold their direction in the good and bad times and are not discouraged by momentary events. I suspect you know who they are. I've come to recognize a lot of them in Imagine Church. As one person said, "Of all the things the church has given me, the most valuable has been the ability to hold my course while everything else is bouncing between extremes."
Something that helps us keep our balance is a deep faith. One of the vivid memories I carry with me from my years as a student pastor is of a grand old man in his 90's who was my next-door neighbor, Logan Hall. He had come through the stresses and storms of a lifetime, but his spirit was strong and unbroken. While he was still able, I invited him to bring the message in worship one Sunday. He chose for the title, "What I Have Learned Thus Far." "One thing I have learned," he said, "is the truth of an old proverb: 'Never forget in the dark what God has told you in the light.'"
If you catch the meaning of that, you're bound to find it easier to remain steady in stressful times. Even in the crucial moments, God's benevolent hand is at work to bring us something good. It is this sort of faith that keeps us steady when we are tempted to throw in the towel and surrender. If we can learn to trust God's benevolent hand, after a while we discover that even our hardships can become our stepping stones to something greater.