Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Christian writer and speaker Graham Cooke challenged my thinking recently by suggesting that the problems that come are way are really gifts from God; each one presents an opportunity for an upgrade in our life experience. When we come out of them successfully we have new understanding in our own situations as well as something new and exciting to share with all the people who populate our lives. His trademark line, “Woohoo! I've got a problem! Happy Birthday to me!” has made me smile every time I've thought about it.

While I wasn't smiling, at least initially, when I broke my elbow, I was keenly aware that the recuperation period ahead of me was like an open door to an old fashioned schoolhouse. I wanted to enter in and glean everything I could from the experience and the weeks ahead. I didn't fear surgery, pain, or physical therapy nearly as much as the thought of wasting what was suddenly available. And so the three and a half months just past have been wonderful in the sense that I had a chance to live out the lesson Graham Cooke taught from his podium; they were like a lengthy lab session, practical application of the notes I took in the lecture. And while I am coming out of the class with a host of lessons learned, perhaps the most valuable aspect of the experience is that it serves as a model of how to approach similar experiences in the future. The Bible warns that in this life we will have difficulty, so it is best that we be prepared for whatever comes our way and welcome every opportunity to advance in that regard.

One of the benefits of having so much time off was that I had time to try a breakfast cafe that I had been wanting to visit for years. I liked it so much on the first visit that I went back often in the weeks that followed. Because it is always crowded, more often than not I've taken a seat at the counter to leave any tables that come available for larger groups. And as I've waited for my food, I've had a chance to notice a large juicer against the back wall. Periodically a server comes along and drops several oranges from a huge basket of the same into a hole at the top. The fruit is then pressed through a maze of gears and roller bars while the freshly squeezed juice fills an empty pitcher that waits for it under the spout at the bottom. The server then grabs the pitcher and fills the glasses of the thirsty patrons in the room.

My life is that juicer, and the basket of oranges are the problems I'll encounter as I go through my days, each packed with potential sweetness encased in difficulty. My challenge is to take each problem as it comes and squeeze every ounce of goodness out of it, discarding the pulp and peel and delighting in the resultant refreshment that enriches my days and those of the people around me. Maximizing my yield in that regard then depends on my attitude as much as my action, my resolve to make the most of every opportunity my problems represent.

When we make the effort to make every experience count, we make our lives count for something, too.

...hold fast to the good.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:21 MKJV)

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