After the coffee hour at church, I passed by the sanctuary on my way out. I saw one of the men sitting in there alone, bent over with his hands on his face as if he were holding himself up. This man named Ben was a good friend of mine. I decided to walk in to see if I could help. He seemed so lost in his thoughts, I didn’t interrupt him. After several minutes, his body straightened, and he seemed to come around so I asked, “Ben, is there anything I can do?”
He answered, “I just don’t know why this is happening.”
I knew what he meant by that because a few weeks earlier, he had suddenly lost his job as the police chief of our small town. To this point, he had not been successful in finding another position. There were circumstances that he was about to reveal to me that I didn’t know, however.
He said, “I believe that the reason I lost my job was because I actively went after people who were using drugs, and some of these were kids. In fact, they were the kids of prominent people in our community. I believe that the community leaders sought to get rid of me to protect their own interests.”
He continued, “It didn’t stop there. Now, I go for an interview for another public service position and am told how impressed they are with my resume, and they will get back to me in a few days. In a few days, they tell me that they are sorry, but they can’t offer me a position.”
He added, “I believe, I am getting a bad review from the people in this town when they call to check my experience. They are trying to punish me by keeping me from getting work.”
I sat there listening to this and felt so bad for Ben. I wished there was something I could say that would make him feel better. All I could say was “I truly understand what you are saying, and I can see how you can come to that conclusion.”
Then the thought crossed my mind about the hard times we had back on the farm where I grew up. I told him that I was going to tell him a story about my dad. I said, “We had year after year of failed crops. Something would always get our fields of promising bumper crops. It was either hail, drought, or bugs.”
I added, “My dad didn’t give up, but instead, he always believed that the next year would be a good year. Now that I look back, I can see that he had more good years than bad ones and built a legacy for himself and his children.”
Ben said, “He heard what I was telling him, but that he was getting so discouraged from not being able to provide for his family.” Then he got up to leave, and I asked if we could pray together which we did. I told him “I will continue to pray that you find that just-right job and if you need someone to talk to, I hope you know that I’m just a phone-call away.”
A few months went by and Ben found another job in his field. I have since moved away from that area, but I had occasion to run into him a few months ago. He told me he was happy and that he has decided to go into the ministry. He has already started taking classes.
I am reminded of the scripture found in Romans 5:3-5, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (NIV)
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