“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.”
— Thomas Paine (1737–1809)
Skating a fine line between wilting in the midst of our problems and stoically pushing on regardless, there is a better way. Gathering strength from our distresses is, initially, not so easy, but it is the mature and safest way of handling our problems.
This is not so much the Middle Road, but a new road.
We need two things in order to take this new road: the 1) awareness of a better alternative—to respond in faith—and commitment to 2) action.
Where we become aware of the effect our problems have over us, and we can measure our response toward calmness, despite how panicked or annoyed we feel, we have the right impetus for action or inaction, as each case may be.
Then all that’s required is a resolute courage to act in accord with the situation’s need.
Like anything as far as faith is concerned, we only get opportunities and results when the rubber hits the road. Our faith cannot grow in the presence of ease. And if it’s the only good news to come out of an unfortunate event, having our faith grow is a real prize we can cherish in our walk, later, with God.
What to Hang on to and What to Let Go
All throughout life we have choices regarding where our focus will be placed.
When we have no choice at least we have the choice about how we will take that lack of choice. Seen this way, we always have choice. Even when we are cornered, we choose our response. Even if the things that have occurred to us are irreversible, as they often are, we have the right of veto regarding our attitudes. We decide; no one else does.
This is no little amount of influence.
The fact that we, by our thoughts and attitudes, have the ability of foresight to seek knowledge of the good in the things that happen to us, we have a grasp on an important personal power.
Gaining strength from distress, therefore, is a beautiful agency of holding on to things by wisdom’s counsel, whilst letting go of the things we cannot retain. It’s even better if we can do this resolutely, without any hankering regret.
Faith to respond well or react poorly is about choice—what we choose to do; how we’ll behave. Even when there are no options presenting, we still have a choice—to respond well in faith, or grumble and wilt. In responding well we gather strength from our distress. It’s about just doing it.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.