Jim and Ron were the best of friends. They grew up together in the same neighborhood in the Northeast. And even though they didn’t go to the same high school, they still remained in contact with each other through the years, through their marriages, Ron’s divorce, Jim’s bouts with cancer, and so many other experiences. Now they were both of retirement age and were able to get together more frequently.
One morning they were walking on the Ocean City boardwalk, and Ron said, “Jim, I’ve always been meaning to ask you something. Whenever I ask you how you’re doing, or I hear someone else ask you that question, you always say ‘I’m living the dream’. Even you are going through a rough time you still say ‘I’m living the dream’. When people ask me how I’m doing I usually end up giving all the gory details of all my problems, or I start complaining about something. How come you stay so positive all the time?”
And Jim said, “You know I’m no fool. I’ve had my share of difficulties. In fact, this round of chemo that I’m going through now isn’t exactly what I would call a thrill. But I always say to myself, what good does it do for me to be miserable, and why should I waste my time worrying about everything, and getting myself more sick than i already am. I know that there are things in life that I have no control over, and when I find life getting the better of me I say, ‘Lord Jesus, I trust in you’.
Here’s something I do that really helps me. I read the Bible every day. A priest suggested that to me many years ago, and I have been doing it ever since. Now, I’m no Scripture scholar or anything like that. I just take a book of the Bible, usually the New Testament or a letter of St Paul. I start from the beginning and read one chapter every day. When there’s a line that jumps out at me, I put a check mark right there. Then I sit in quiet for a few minutes focusing on that verse and why it attracted me. It’s usually because I’m relating the message to something that’s happening in my life. The way I see it, those things that jump out at me are the things that Jesus wants to say to me, the things that Jesus is saying to me, “Pay attention to this! It’s one of the ways that God communicates with me.
There’s this really great line from the Letter to the Hebrews—-it’s now one of my favorites:
The Lord is my helper,
I will not be afraid;
what can man do to me!
The first time I read that, I remember I was having a lousy day. Everything was going wrong. And I thought, ‘I really needed to hear that’. And I felt myself calming down. Ever since then, I say that verse whenever I feel myself getting all worked up, and I calm down. I’ve learned through all of this that I can cope with my problems in a better way than if I just relied on myself to work through things.”
God says to Jeremiah, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.” The more we learn to turn to the Lord in time of difficulty, the calmer we will become. As our confidence in Christ grows we become convinced that He is with us, that we are not alone, and that we will never be abandoned.
Do you remember the movie ”Bridge of Spies”? It was out a couple of years ago. In that movie, the character Tom Hanks plays says to the Russian spy several times in the course of the film, “Do you ever worry?” And each time the Russian is asked that question, he replies, “Would it help?”
Would worrying help? Would being miserable all the time help? Would being resentful help? How about asking Jesus for help and trust that he will hear you? Perhaps that would be the more constructive route to go.