The Worst of Times


Three Jewish lads somehow survived the death camps that claimed all their family members.  They had spent a large part of their young lives witnessing unimaginable horrors and enduring nightmarish tortures. 


Soon after gazing at the Statue of Liberty their lives began to change.  William Konar opened a little drug store that grew into the giant CVS chain.  Nathan Shapell began building small homes for returning World War II veterans, eventually heading Shapell Industries.  Fred Kort sold bubble makers and baby bouncers and emerged as one of America’s biggest toy tycoons. 


Events far less momentous than the Holocaust can fill us with gloom.  Life’s challenges can easily overwhelm us with despondency that flows from a sense that the pain will never end.


Some business professionals facing the bleakness of bankruptcy sink into despair. Others rebound, succeeding spectacularly in subsequent years.


Every young mother has “those days”.  While trying to cater to the boundless appetite of her newborn, her toddler is preparing for a career as a trapeze artist. Meanwhile, mom is lonely and exhausted, and a shower is just a long-ago memory.  On days like this she can’t remember what good times feel like and suspects they’ll never return.


One week later, mom is singing while baking a birthday cake.  Her husband is home from that long business trip, her children are behaving angelically and the sun is shining in her life.


Whether you are a weary mother, a survivor of one of the world’s cataclysms, a patient facing a frightening medical condition, or perhaps the head of an international oil company dealing with an unparalleled disaster, it is easy to fall into a dangerous mental state believing that good times will never return. It is dangerous because the dark sense of hopelessness that pervades your soul makes it hard, sometimes impossible, to collaborate in your own deliverance.


If you haven’t already done so, make a commitment to read the Bible’s Book of Judges.  Steal some time away from television, allow yourself fifteen minutes for extra bedtime reading, or get up fifteen minutes earlier each morning for a quarter-hour with the Book of Judges.


You will make fascinating discoveries that will impact your life.  For instance, the book seems to be a veritable catalog of calamities.  It takes you on a tragic tour through Jewish history from defeat to disaster and from catastrophe to communal collapse, with brave judges like Deborah and Samson stepping in to save their people.


Does the Book of Judges really describe a period of non-stop problems?  Hardly.  In fact, the book spans over 350 years many of which were peaceful and productive.  In both chapters 17 and 21 we read:


“…there was no king in Israel;

each man will do that which was right in his eyes.”


Ancient Jewish wisdom views this comment as words of praise. Although there was no strong central authority, people nonetheless carefully thought through their actions and tried to conduct themselves with propriety and honor.  And there were numerous peaceful stretches of time. Yet reading Judges, one could easily be misled into thinking that only terrible times afflicted Israel.


We grow most and learn best from tough times.  Since Judges is intended to bear a moral message for mankind, it focuses on the challenges.  We wouldn’t learn much from a book, each of whose chapters opens with something like this: “It was another glorious day in ancient Israel with everyone behaving well and God smiling upon His people.”


While enduring tough times, keep your spirits up by reminding yourself that God discourages us from surrendering to depression and hopelessness.  Recognize that He is in control and keep an image alive of another world and time where things go well.


There are horrible times when we cannot extricate ourselves from terrible circumstances; we can only try to control our attitude. Other times, however, we have the ability to change our condition. It is for those times that I recorded my audio CD, Let Me Go: How to Overcome Life’s Challenges and Escape Your Own Egypt. We all face struggles, whether in our personal or business lives, and this CD supplies tools for meeting the challenge head-on so that you can indeed say, “It was another glorious day.”





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