Have you ever been cranky? Years ago a friend came into my office with a cartoon of a prune-faced man talking to his doctor. He said, “What do you mean I’ve got an ulcer? I don’t get ulcers, I give them.”
“That’s you,” my friend said. “Are you serious?” He laughed. “Well…just a little.”
The truth is, he was right. Not long before, my wife had experienced her first grand mal seizure and despite a thousand prayers and a dozen doctors, the seizures arrived several times a day, knocking the stuffing out of us. I was trying to hold down a job, while caring for a wife and aging parents who lived with us. And then we had three kids and a new little dog named Mojo. It was like shovelling during a blizzard. And I began to wonder, does God even care?
One night I lay awake and the thought hit me: Run Callaway. Make a dash for it. A man I played softball with had done this. One week he was there, the next he wasn’t. Perhaps that would be the shortest path to peace. Of course I knew what was right, but what was wrong caused my stomach to jump in anticipation.
Until the night I found the kids kneeling at the top of stairs cheering for the dog. Don’t ask me why, but Mojo had a toy cat between her teeth and was trying to drag it up the stairs. The stuffed cat was twice her size. But the stubborn dog wouldn’t quit. She pushed it. Tossed it. Dragged it sideways. She tried pulling it backward and tumbled head over heels in a heap. Then she looked up at us and wagged her tail. “Come on,” said Rachael. “You can do it.” Then it happened. She backed up, lifted her head and made a run for it. One stride at a time she lugged that cat up fourteen stairs. It was a miracle of tenacity, courage and perseverance. I cheered. Maybe because I was the one who needed that example.
I have come to discover that one of the quickest ways to long-term misery is short-term thinking. You want joy? When it comes to matters of faith and conscience, don’t give up. Paul says in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” One of the signs that God is at work in us is perseverance in difficulty and distress. Talent and opportunity and education are wonderful gifts – but none can take the place of determination.
So hang in there today. Back up. Wag your tail, and take another run at it.