by Charles R. Swindoll
Having just held a memorial service for a friend several years younger than I who had died with liver cancer, I have been thinking about how to respond when struck by an arrow of affliction. Not a little irritating dart, but an arrow plunged deeply.
My friend chose not to curl up in a corner with a calendar and put Xs on days. On the contrary, the news of his malignancy only spurred him on to drain every ounce out of every day. His physician had told him he would probably be gone before last Thanksgiving. "Says who?" he mused. Not only did he live through Thanksgiving, at Christmas he threw a party, the following Easter was delightful, a fun picnic on the Fourth of July was a gas. . . and he had a special celebration in the planning stage for this Thanksgiving! A close friend of his told me that the last time they talked he had made an appointment to have his teeth fixed.
I love that kind of spunk! It underscores one of my unspoken philosophies of life: When struck by an arrow, don't seek more days in your life but more life in your days. Forget quantity; pursue quality. Look beyond the pain and you'll find incredible perspective.
When the thorn punctured Paul's balloon, he refused to wallow in self-pity and whine away the balance of his days. He learned to glory in his weaknesses. He discovered a contentment, even a joy, in the midst of "distresses . . . persecutions . . . difficulties" (2 Cor. 12:10). In weakness he found inner strength.
In spite of his brothers' cruel mistreatment, subsequent slavery in Egypt, false accusations from Mrs. Potiphar (resulting in being dumped into a dungeon for years), Joseph steered clear of bitterness. As a matter of fact, he ultimately told his brothers, "God turned into good what you meant for evil" (Gen. 50:20 TLB). Talk about incredible perspective regarding life's arrows!
Arrows don't change a person's direction. They merely deepen his or her character; they help the afflicted rediscover certain values before achieving even greater things—if we let them.
So, which arrow has struck you recently? News of an alleged "terminal" illness? Physical pain? Unfair treatment? False accusations? Struggles at home? Somebody throwing rocks? An accident that's left you scarred? Don't waste time licking your wounds or wondering why. Make a decision to do what you were doing even better than ever. Life's arrows are nothing more than momentary setbacks that help us regroup, renew, and reload—so, what are you waiting for?
Don't seek more days in your life but more life in your days.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.