I could be wrong, but I think we’re missing a few things…
“Brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
How could troubles be an opportunity? And better yet, how could they ever be considered an opportunity for joy? What exactly are troubles an opportunity for?
I think of the recently deceased Chuck Colson, whose troubling stay in federal prison after his Watergate-related crimes led to the founding of Prison Fellowship, an organization that ministers to the ‘least-of-these’ masses in a radically effective way…
I think of Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch prisoner of a Nazi concentration camp, whose barracks was invested by massive swarms of fleas, yet it was the fleas which kept the abusive guards away, allowing the prisoners to study together and thus encourage one another…
Prisons and fleas.
Troubles and trials.
Many see troubles as unjust. Nothing worthwhile. Absolutely no good. Dare I suggest — thus completely contradicting any concept of opportunity — we don’t like troubles and trials; in fact, we labor intentionally to avoid them at all costs. Not only do many of us toil to minimize the trouble, when the trouble actually manifests itself, we are more likely to proclaim a seemingly ‘last-ditch’ status as opposed to wrestle with the possibility of the positive. We identify ourself or others as a “victim.”
… “My son didn’t make the better team; the coach doesn’t like him.” [In other words: my son’s a victim.]
… “I didn’t get the promotion; they always promote minorities.” [I’m a victim.]
… “All we want to do is work, to be able to support ourselves. But thanks to the rich being greedy, we can’t even have that.” [We are victims.]
… “We deserve better. This is the hull of a slave ship.” [We are victims.]
You can agree or disagree with any of the above and the degree of truth within. The Intramuralist is not suggesting that there is zero truth in the expressed reasoning; the Intramuralist is suggesting, however, that in each of the above there is no recognition of potential opportunity (let alone one laced with any semblance of joy).
While physical, emotional, and spiritual troubles are not something I would wish upon anyone, I am also saddened by those who feel justified in encouraging victim status within troubling circumstances.
“You don’t deserve this!”
“How dare they do that do you!”
“You’ve been wronged!”
“We’ve been wronged!”
While wronging does happen on this planet, how much wiser would we be if we would instead more often ask:
“How can I grow?”
“What can I learn?”
“What can I accomplish through this negative set of circumstances?”
Many actions and words today favor blaming others as opposed to wrestling with self responsibility… demanding help as opposed to empowering individuals … and playing victim as opposed to recognizing opportunity.
We have forgotten the value and joy of opportunity…
… not to mention the prisons and fleas.