Happy or Sad? I Can Still Do What I Ought to Do
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
I was stunned by a familiar Scripture I read this week in a modern language version. I'd read it many times before, but I'd never noticed the bold statement as it is in this translation:
The time that remains is very short. . . .
Happiness or sadness or wealth should not
keep anyone from doing God's work. . . .
For this world and all it contains will pass away. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31 nlt)
Why was I startled? Because sometimes I am sad-it's part of the human condition, isn't it? And when I am sad, I don't feel at all productive. When I'm happy, of course I enjoy working. But this verse seems to say my happiness or my sadness is not what matters most. What matters most is doing what God wants me to do, whatever my circumstances.
Thinking about it, I remembered a time when my husband Walt illustrated this so beautifully to our church congregation. We'd started a church in a new subdivision in the Chicago area, and people were responding well. We met in a school building while we worked on building a beautiful new sanctuary. People had volunteered all kinds of help, and the building was within weeks of being ready for services. Expectations and emotions were high. That week the wood trusses were to be sheathed ready for shingles.
We were eating lunch when the project supervisor, a member of our new church, called. "Walt, are you sitting down?"
"Yes. The carpenters removed the bracing on the first truss without tying it first into the next truss. Just now, that truss fell, and like dominoes, it
knocked down all the other trusses, and the side walls of the building have all been destroyed. I'm so, so sorry."
Shattering news. Walt drove to the site, surveyed the damage, came home and got out his familiar yellow pad. He wrote down the steps that would have to be taken to rebuild. And Saturday morning, he was at the site with equipment to start clearing off the mangled trusses. He was heart-broken, of course. But he helped our grieving church members to take courage and start the mind-numbing task of rebuilding.
Last year I was in the Chicago area, and saw that building we built 55 years ago. It's still there, still offering the blessed Gospel week by week. Yes, it was re-constructed in sadness, but it was also built with fortitude and endurance. And God has used it through the years to accomplish the work He wanted done. And when "this world and all it contains" passes away, God's work in the hearts of human beings will still endure.
Happiness or sadness or wealth
should not keep anyone
from doing God's work!
Might it be that God blessed that building more because we built it through our tears?