Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 13, 2010

What to do when nothing seems to be going right

Ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right? You know, one of those days when you find yourself saying in despair, "I should have stayed in bed!"

Sure, we all have days like that. That is actually “normal” simply because none of us can avoid bad luck. You will have your share of hardship so you might as well get prepared for it. Trouble will find you. It knows your address.  

The wise thing to do is to learn how to cope with adversity. Develop a plan to handle hardship. Crazy things happen. Sooner or later you are the victim.

A woman’s cat got stuck up in a tree. Unable to talk the cat down, she called the fire department. Soon four helpful firemen were on hand, with a truck and a big bucket. One of the firemen was hoisted up in the bucket and he quickly rescued the cat. The woman was so thankful. She invited the firemen inside her home and served them tea and biscuits.

After a few minutes the firemen climbed into the fire truck and backed out of the driveway, waving to the grateful woman. She watched in horror as the fire truck backed over her cat and killed it. Suddenly everything went wrong as tribulation descended upon the poor woman and the four firemen. It was one of those bad days, the kind we all have now and then.

Preachers are not immune from bad days. A preacher can preach his heart out only to have someone come up afterward with a question that ruins his day.

Bill Hinson used to tell about the country preacher who eloquently retold the creation story with a little homespun twist to it. God, he said, made Adam out of mud and then leaned him up against a rail fence to dry. But a wry old farmer raised an objection. "But preacher, if Adam was the first man, where did the rail fence come from?" Red faced and frustrated, the preacher replied icily, "It's questions like that that ruin religion." I know how that preacher felt; he was mighty glad he had left his pistol at home.

What can we do to salvage our sanity on days when everything goes wrong? Let me share two ideas that are helpful to me.

First, never surrender to pessimism. When things go wrong, pessimism knocks on your door and wants to move in to stay a week. The best thing you can do is to refuse to let the old rascal in. Run him off with a broom. Threaten to kill him if he comes back. Once you give in to pessimism, you allow disaster to put its ugly heel on your neck. Do not go there.

Second, never give up on optimism. Even when the milk is spilled, find a way to laugh about it. Clean up the mess and go on. Tell yourself the floor needed cleaning anyway, and the milk left a good shine on the floor. Life is impossible without optimism. Keep an extra supply on hand. Sooner than you expect, you will need it.

If your cat gets killed, get another cat. If you spill the milk, buy some more. If one of your church members asks you a stupid question, recommend a good Baptist Church to him. If you break a leg, smile because you still have one good leg. Most importantly, do not get down on yourself. Smile and move on. As bad as the day may have been, remember it could have been worse!

I heard about a football coach whose team kept having losing seasons. He was a good coach and his teams almost won every game. But a fumble or an interception kept snatching victory out of their hands.

Somehow the coach kept smiling. He refused to complain. Asked how he kept such a positive attitude, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'm the kind of guy who, if I fell in a mud puddle, would get up and feel in my pockets for fish."

Now that is a winning attitude! Win or lose, that coach is a winner.  Winners feel like that and talk like that.

So the next time you have a day when nothing is going right, keep your chin up. Don't give in. Believe in yourself and keep smiling. Smiling when trouble has you by the throat frustrates the devil.  And it is fun to frustrate the devil.

Say, don't I smell fish frying in your skillet? Fix up a pan of cheese grits and make some hush puppies. Whip up some coleslaw.  I am free Saturday night. Invite me over and I will help you tell the devil to take his adversity and get out of town. And, believe me, tomorrow will be a better day! + + +