Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

July 17, 2016


When trouble comes, some folks refuse to give up


        Trouble reveals our true character. When trouble comes, some folks cut and run. Others refuse to give up. These tough people are the ones we admire. They are our heroes – the people who refuse to quit in the face of adversity.

I have known and admired several such people. One was Johnnie Johnston. She was 88 when I met her. Johnnie was a painter. She gave me one of her oil paintings of an open Bible on a pulpit. She said, “I painted that one when I was 85. I had to paint it with my left hand because my right hand had been paralyzed by a stroke.”

I never heard Johnnie complain. She stayed busy painting, cooking and doing things for other people. She had no time to feel sorry for herself. People needed her so like her Lord she “went about doing good.”

Stella Bush was another. The first time I saw her was the Sunday someone brought her into church in a wheelchair. I found out she was paralyzed from the neck down. But she could still talk. That Sunday she told me God told her to come to church and give her heart to Jesus.

The next day she called me and asked me if there was anything she could do for the Lord. She told me her caretaker dialed my number and held the phone so she could talk to me. So every Monday I gave her a few names and numbers of people who had missed church the previous day. You can imagine the shock people got when a paralyzed woman called to say “We missed you in church yesterday.”

        Joe Hamilton was another hero. He was homebound; diabetes had robbed him of a leg but he did not whine about it. Instead he was cheerful and talked about former days when he was healthy.  

        When his doctor advised Joe he would have to lose his other leg, Joe said to me, “I will be all right; I still have both arms.” And he was all right. He asked for no sympathy and refused to feel sorry for himself. Joe’s remarkable courage showed me how God can help a man face devastating trouble without fear or flinching.    

        Maude Smith was a widow. She lived alone but she was not a bitter recluse.  If she was ever depressed, she never let on. Whenever Maude was around, people were smiling and laughing. She was a carrier of good cheer.

Many women crochet; Maude baked cakes. She did not wait for birthdays. She baked cakes and gave them to people just for the joy of doing it.  Her cakes, and her cheerful countenance, made you aware that loneliness can be overcome by caring for others.

John Jones was diagnosed with cancer. He had to retire early. Cancer and the treatment for it robbed him of energy, denying him many of the privileges he once enjoyed. But he chose to be better, not bitter. His family said he never complained right up to the time of his final illness.

He saw death coming down the road looking for him. He refused to give up and go quietly. As long as he had breath, he lived every day to the fullest. John looked death in the face and said, “You cannot take my life because I have already given it to God. My future is in his hands, not yours.”

My friend Ben was hospitalized in February. Risky heart surgery was recommended though the doctors warned he might not survive it. The surgery was successful but slowly it became obvious he was not going to recover. Once or twice we thought he was dying but he revived. He said he saw “the light” and was not afraid. He told us he was at peace and had no fear of dying. Weeks later he crossed over to the other side without fear. While he was still lucid I had thanked him for our 60-year friendship and we laughed about being together again soon. He was my age. His last gift was showing me how to die peacefully without fear.

When it comes my time to slip through that thin curtain that separates this life from the next, I want to do so like Ben did, without fear. That would be one small way of paying my debt to those remarkable people who stayed the course and kept the faith when hard times came their way.  + + +