Points to Ponder/Considering The Sufferings Of This Present Time

by Pastor Dennis Whitmore


A pastor was walking out the church door one day when he confronted a street person who was on his way in to ask for help. The pastor was in a hurry and felt like nodding a simple greeting and continuing on his way. But he saw the man had only one shoe; so he stopped to speak with him. The man was dirty and wore layers of disheveled clothing. The Pastor said, “I see you have lost a shoe.” The homeless man broke into a cheery toothless smile and said, “No. I found one!”

The pastor learned a valuable lesson from a man he would otherwise be inclined not to respect. Here was a man who had nothing, and yet he had a more positive attitude about his circumstances than many of us have about our own.

I recently conducted a funeral service for an 89-year old woman whom I had never met. When I heard from relatives and friends what kind of life she had, I felt a sense of deep admiration. She had grown up dirt poor, worked in orchards and as a maid from her teen years, until marriage. Her husband and she had six children. One died, just a year old. The youngest contracted polio as a baby and spent many years paralyzed. Just a few years after that, her husband committed suicide.

She was in her 30s, grieving her baby and husband, caring for a handicapped child, and raising four others. Then one of her sons also committed suicide. Years later, she lost a granddaughter in the same way. Imagine the tremendous burden of pain and grief!

Yet her faith remained strong. She knew the old hymns and often could be found in her home singing them. She trusted God, stayed in His word, and thanked Him constantly. Some people “find religion,” others have a relationship with the Lord. No doubt she knew Him.

One of her sons composed a little pamphlet with words of wisdom this dear lady had shared with others. Here is one selection:

THINGS I’VE LEARNED OVER THE YEARS

That just one person saying to me, “You’ve made my day!” makes my day.
That being kind is more important than always being right.
That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
That the Lord didn’t do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?
That love, not time, heals all wounds.
That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.
That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
That I can’t choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.

Perhaps she knew the Apostle Paul’s words:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18 NIV)

The willful attitude of thanksgiving for all that she did have more than compensated for the pain of all the things she did not have or had lost. Thankfulness is not something you feel, it is something you do and it is a lifestyle. The Apostle Paul spoke of it in his letter from prison to the Philippians; he’d learned to be content with abundance or with nothing. “I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances.” (Phil 4:11) How did he achieve that kind of learning? He knew in Whom to place his trust and his very life:

“I can do everything through Him who strengthens me.”(Phil. 4:13 NIV) Sarah Ellen Anderson was 89. This wise woman really got me thinking, and yet I never knew her. That is a legacy - to influence people who never knew you, even after you’re gone. Keep that in mind if you ever are tempted to believe that your present distress is a waste of your life or that it won’t matter.

Make it matter!

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Dennis

Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.