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Topic: Adversity
Subtopic: Blessings in Disguise

Title:  Successful People and Suffering

   In a famous study by Victor and Mildred Goertzel, entitled Cradles of Eminence, the home backgrounds of 300 highly successful people were investigated. These 300 subjects had made it to the top. They were men and women whose names everyone would recognize as brilliant in their fields, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Albert Schweitzer, Clara Barton, Gandhi, Einstein, and Freud. The intensive investigation into their early home lives yielded some surprising findings:

 * Three fourths of the children were troubled either by poverty, by a broken home, or by rejecting, overpossessive, or dominating parents.
 * Seventy-four of 85 writers of fiction or drama and 16 of the 20 poets came from homes where, as children, they saw tense psychological drama played out by their parents.
 * Physical handicaps such as blindness, deafness, or crippled limbs characterized over one-fourth of the sample.

   How did these people go on, then, to such outstanding accomplishments? Most likely by compensation. They compensated for their weaknesses in one area by excelling in another.

See:  2 Cor 12:7-10

Title:  The Soap that Floats

   There is a well-known brand of soap that has two uncommon qualities. It's known as "the soap which floats" and is the oldest of the best-sellers. But it wasn't always that way.
   Years ago this soap was just another brand among many. Then a factory foreman blundered by leaving a batch of new soap unwatched in the cooking vat during noon hour. His lunch was delayed and the soap overcooked.
   Rather than report the mistake and run the risk of dismissal, the foreman decided to make the best of it. He shipped out this new batch anyway. It seemed to clean just as well -- although now much lighter.
   The results surprised everyone. Rather than complaints the company was deluged with orders for this floating soap. The foreman was not fired but promoted when he cooperated with company chemists to revise and modify the old formula for "the soap that floats."
   Blessings sometimes come from blunders. It's often possible to make something better out of something bad.
   That's the way God works with us. We don't often do right the first time, but He's always ready to salvage the situation no matter how bad we make it. (Rom 8:28)

Title:  Burdens that are Blessings

   An old legend says that at creation the birds felt cheated and hurt because they received wings. Wings appeared to be burdens which none of the other animals were asked to carry. All was changed, however, when the birds learned that wings were not burdens but blessings that borne them to the sky. Because they were given wings they could rise above the earth and see sights which no other animal could see. What seemed like burdens were really blessings.

See:  Gen 1:21; Psa 55:6

Title:  Hurricanes

   I had always thought of hurricanes as something mankind could do without. But recently I learned that they are necessary to maintain a balance in nature. These tropical storms, with winds up to 150 miles an hour and accompanied by torrential rains, glaring lightning, and rumbling thunder, can be devastating. Yet scientists tell us they are tremendously valuable. They dissipate a large percentage of the oppressive heat which builds up at the equator, and they are indirectly responsible for much of the rainfall in North and South America. Meteorologists therefore no longer use cloud-seeding techniques to prevent them from being formed. They are convinced that hurricanes actually do more good than harm.
   The Bible teaches us that the afflictions of God's people are like that. Though they bring temporary pain and grief, they can produce eternal dividends. (Psalm 119:75)

See:  Eccl 1:6; 2 Cor 4:17

Title:  Treasure in the Tragedy

   A Christian man lost his home and mill when a flood washed them away. He was broken-hearted and discouraged as he stood surveying his loss. Just then he saw a glittering object that had been uncovered by the waters. It was gold! The disaster he thought had made him a beggar had actually made him wealthy. So, too, the Lord often works through our troubles to strip away certain cherished possessions to show us the better treasures of His love and power. How thankful we should be that in every storm of affliction we have the assurance that the Lord has a good purpose in view!

See:  Jer 29:11; Rom 8:28; Phil 3:7-8

Title:  Norman Vincent Peale's Advice On Problems ...

   A problem is a concentrated opportunity. The only people I have ever known to have no problems are in the cemetery. The more problems you have, the more alive you are. Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution. I often say, when the Lord wants to give you the greatest value in this world, He doesn't wrap it in a sophisticated package and hand it to you on a silver platter. He is too subtle, too adroit, for that. He takes this big value and buries it at the heart of a big, tough problem. How He must watch with delight when you've got what it takes to break that problem apart and find at its heart what the Bible calls, "the pearl of great price." Everybody I've ever known who succeeded in a big way in life has done so by breaking problems apart and finding the value that was there.

   -- Personal Selling Power, 12/92.

See:  Phil 1:12-14; Jam 1:2-4

Title:  Fanny Crosby

   The famous blind songwriter Fanny Crosby wrote more than 8,000 songs. This fact and other interesting highlights in the life of Miss Crosby were revealed by Warren Wiersbe in his book Victorious Christian. Wiersbe explained that when Fanny was only 6 weeks old a minor eye inflammation developed. The doctor who treated the case was careless, though, and she became totally and permanently blind.
   Fanny Crosby harbored no bitterness against the physician, however. In fact, she once said of him, "If I could meet him now, I would say thank you, over and over again for making me blind." She felt that her blindness was a gift from God to help her write the hymns that flowed from her pen. According to those who knew her, Miss Crosby probably would have refused treatment even if it could have assured the restoration of her sight.
   Wiersbe concluded by commenting: "It was said of another blind hymnwriter, George Matheson, that God made him blind so he could see clearly in other ways and become a guide to men. This same tribute could be applied to Fanny Crosby, who triumphed over her handicap and used it to the glory of God." Yes, this talented woman allowed her tragedy to make her better instead of bitter.

See:  Isa 42:16; John 9:39; Rom 8:28

Title:  Accepting humbly

   Early in my ministry, I met a man named Worral. He had been stricken with rheumatoid arthritis at age 15, and when I met him 30 years later, he was totally paralyzed except for 1 finger, could barely speak and was totally blind. But he had a string tied to that one mobile finger that could turn on a recorder. He wrote for national magazines, authored books and led a happy and influential life from his bed. This was possible because after initial prayers brought no healing, he accepted his lot graciously and said, "Well Lord! If this is the size plot in life you've staked out for me, let's you and me together show the world what we can grow on it."
   Down the path of humble acceptance, Worral achieved a happier and more useful life within the limitations of very restricted circumstances than most people ever will manage with excellent physical health.

   -- Dr. Floyd Faust

See:  John 9:3; 2 Cor 12:9

Title:  Death does not stop influence

   The "homegoing" of slain Wycliffe linguist Chester Bitterman was not a setback to the work of translating the Scriptures into the world's remaining 3,000 unwritten languages. It was, said William Cameron Townsend, 84, founder-patriarch of Wycliffe and its Summer Institute of Linguistics, "a tremendous advance. Young people have been awakened in a new way."
   That this is not pious sentiment or wishful thinking became evident at the Golden Jubilee celebration of Wycliffe in Anaheim, California, last month, when 7,500 Wycliffe supporters paid tribute to "Uncle Cam" and Wycliffe's 4,255 members who work in 750 languages in 35 countries. Since the 28-year-old Bitterman was kidnapped, then murdered 48 days later in Bogota, Columbia (CT, April 10, p. 70), about 100 students at Columbia Bible College in North Carolina, where Bitterman was graduated, have pledged themselves to missionary service. Chet's widow, Brenda, has vowed to return to Bible literacy work, and his younger brother, Craig, 21, has applied to Wycliffe, hoping to be a Bible translator. And a new chair of linguistics and Bible translation has been established at Biola College in La Mirada, California, in Chet's memory.
   Said Chet's father, Chester Bitterman, Sr., who, with his wife, Mary, and Chet's five brothers and sisters were special guests at the Golden Jubilee: "On a human level, Chet may have lost his life. But we believe that God is not finished in this. We haven't read the last chapter yet."

See:  Psa 116:15

Title:  Castro Sends Out Missionary

   Bogota, Columbia -- The keynote speaker at the Advanced Evangelism Explosion Seminar in Bogota, Columbia, was Rev. Rodolfo Loyola, a pastor from Madrid, Spain. His testimony was shared with UPDATE by Rev. R. Craig Strickland of Second Presbyterian Church of Memphis, TN., who accompanied Woody Lafara to the Seminar as a Clinic teacher.

   "Sixteen years ago, Rev. Loyola was a pastor and professor in Cuba. The Cuban government instructed him to either abandon his faith or quit teaching school. They gave him 15 days to decide. Rev. Loyola said, "I don't need 15 days. I don't need 15 minutes. I won't be back to teach tomorrow."
   Several days later, in the middle of the night, he was abducted and imprisoned in a Cuban concentration camp for over two years. In part because of his dedication to sharing the gospel with those around him, he was transferred 13 times to new concentration camps.
   Finally, he was told by Castro's government that he had 30 days to find two thousand dollars to take his family out of Cuba. Over the weekend, he and his wife prayed for guidance, writing to family and friends in other countries. Thirty days later, there was two thousand and ten dollars. So with ten dollars in his pocket, Rev. Loyola and his family were sent to Spain where he now joyfully exclaims that he is a missionary to Spain sent by Castro!"

See:  Acts 1:8

Title:  Analogies

   I rejoice in knowing that...
   There is no oil without squeezing the olives,
   No wine without pressing the grapes,
   No fragrance without crushing the flowers, and
   No real joy without sorrow.

See:  2 Cor 1:5-7; 2 Cor 7:9; Phil 3:10-11; Col 1:24

Title:  What it Means to Be a Christian Leader

   Cal Thomas found himself called a "Christian leader" by a leading Christian magazine and he wondered what that meant ("Dear God, Please Don't Let Me Be a Christian Leader," Fundamentalist Journal, May). More speaking engagements? Perhaps an appearance on a Christian talk show?
   "It would certainly give me the right to start putting Scripture references under my signed name in books I have written. I would surely sign more Bibles, which I find a curious practice since I didn't write that Book."
   Thomas wonders if we have reversed things. God's strength is made perfect in weakness. "In a church I once attended, there was a man of tremendous faith. His wife is an alcoholic. His daughter has psychological problems. He was often poor in health. Yet, week after week, he never complained. He always smiled and asked me how I was doing. He faithfully brought to church a young blind man who had no transportation. He always sat with the blind man, helping him sing the hymns by saying the words into his ear. That man was a 'Christian leader' if ever there was one."

See:  Luke 22:26; Acts 20:18-21; Phil 2:3-4; Col 3:12-13; 1 Pet 1:22

Title:  Why do you need this illness?

   Bernie Siegel, M.D., shocks his cancer patients when he asks them, "Why did you need this illness?"  He claims that our bodies break down to give us a message, and many times it is a message that we have been ignoring.  According to Dr. Siegel, while nobody wants to be ill, many patients say that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them.  They learned to appreciate life and to express their feelings to their loved ones.  They were able to pick up the paintbrush they previously had been too busy to hold.  Even illness can be a blessing.

   -- Caurie Beth Hones, Jesus, CEO (Hyperion, 1995), p. 48-49.

See: Psa 119:67; Isa 30:20-21; 2 Cor 4:16-17; 2 Cor 12:7-10