June 13, 2021


Catching Hardship by the Handle


            No one escapes adversity. Hardship finds us all. No matter how hard you may try to hide from trouble, sooner or later it will find you. How you react to it is what matters. Your response to adversity determines its impact upon your future.

            A school teacher’s first child was born mentally challenged. She refused to become embittered. With the encouragement of her husband, she returned to college, earned a master’s degree in special education and devoted her life to teaching children with special needs.

My mentor, “Brother Stanley” Jones, described the teacher’s response as catching hardship by the handle. He drew this conclusion from the popular saying, “When Fate throws a dagger at you, there are two ways to catch it: either by the blade or by the handle.” Each of us has a choice when the daggers come flying at us — we can grasp it by the blade and let it cut us or we can grasp it by the handle and use it to defend ourselves.

David Livingstone left a good life in London and became famous as a missionary in Africa. When his wife Mary died of malaria at age 41, he buried her under a baobab tree and devoted the rest of his days to helping the poor in Africa. He grasped the dagger of grief by the handle.

My friend Paul, injured in an accident as a young man, became blind. Instead of blaming God and indulging in bitterness, Paul focused on ways to enjoy life and serve others despite his blindness. He learned Braille and began leading a Bible study. He refused to sit at home and feel sorry for himself. With his wife driving their car, they traveled to Canada “to see the sights.” When they returned, they invited Dean and me to their home for coffee. I listened with amazement as he described the beautiful places they had visited. He had seen the beauty of Canada through his wife’s eyes! He had grasped the dagger of blindness by the handle.

Louise was devastated when the doctor said her little boy would soon die, a victim of leukemia. Tending to her son In the hospital, she soon realized there were many other sick and dying children in the world. After her son died, Louise devoted the rest of her life to caring for children. She spent many years dressing up as a clown to the delight of children. Her great joy was to awaken children to the joy of living as children of God. She grasped the dagger of suffering by the handle.

Sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph could have wallowed in resentment and anger. Instead he trusted God who is able to turn evil into good. Because Joseph resisted the desire for revenge, God rewarded him with reconciliation with his brothers. Joseph grasped the dagger of evil by the handle.

Fate threw the dagger of the cross at Jesus. He grasped it by the handle and turned a hideous sin into a beautiful gift of love. He turned a crucifixion into a celebration, sorrow into gladness, defeat into a glorious victory.

What dagger of hardship is life throwing at you? Whatever it is, ask God to help you catch it by the handle. + + +