Dealing With the Difficult

How do you react when things go wrong, times when it just seems you aren’t getting the breaks? Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from this story involving former President Dwight Eisenhower. He was asked, “Mr. President, you have known every great man of our time. Who was the greatest man you ever met?”

He replied, “It wasn’t a man. It was a woman. It was my mother. She never had much schooling, but she was wise in God’s wisdom. She went to school to the greatest of all books, the Bible. And she acquired real wisdom.” 

He continued, “Once when I was a boy, my brother and I were playing a game of cards with my mother. The game was with cards — not regular playing cards because she was too straight-laced for that — but a hand of cards was dealt and I remember this night mother dealt me an utterly impossible hand. And I began to complain about it.”

She said, “Boys, put your cards down, I want to tell you something, especially you, Dwight. You are playing a game in your home with your mother under loving circumstances. We all love each other here and I have dealt you a bad hand. What are you to do? You are to pray to God. You are to trust God and like a man you are to play out the hand that is dealt you.”

“And,” said Dwight Eisenhower, “that is one of the wisest things I learned in my youth.”

We all get dealt bad hands. Right? Often it seems it is not fair. Fair isn’t the issue, the right response is. Pray about it and play it out using the wisdom and grace you have. Trust the Lord as you do that He will enable you to get the best possible result. The result may not be what you want, but it will be your best, resulting in the best.

There was a time when the Apostle Paul had been dealt a bad hand that put him in a Roman prison. Not a good hand. How is he to play it out? He wrote what is known as the prison epistles, one of which was the book of Philippians.

Even though this letter was written in the midst of hardship, while Paul was a prisoner, it still shouts victory and joy, because the words “joy” and “rejoicing” are used sixteen times in the four short chapters of the book. There is no hint of “poor little old me,” not a sniveling word. He described his response in such a way worthy of our responses. 

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3: 13, 14)

“I press” indicates it was not easy for him, and will not be for us to play out some hands.