Shaking Off Hard Times

It’s everywhere we choose to look.  Unemployment. Cutbacks. Higher costs. Lower benefits. Here in the land of free and the home of the brave, a wave of discontent has settled—and not just amongst the Wall Street protesting crowd. Looking at the poll numbers-- it’s across the bandwidth of our society.

The loudest protests seem to be from the youngest workers—the ones with the least experience dealing with tough roads, longer waits, and the reality that good things come to those who are willing to work hard for as long as it takes.

I’ve been wondering what the cure will be, knowing that it won’t be easy, cheap, or quick. Early in my marriage, during the years without enough money to pay the bills, we tacked up a wall-to-wall chart of our debts in the bedroom. It was the last thing we'd see going to sleep and it greeted us first thing each morning. While it might have been nice to protest or be bailed out, that wasn't happening. We worked....and worked. Climbing out of that hole of debt took time. 

My testimony probably rings hollow to someone just starting out. They are anxious to achieve. The instant gratification and drive-thru mentality makes it easier to protest the inequality rather than realize most folks earned their money the hard way--year after year--making a slow climb.

So for these dark days of this recession, I offer the story of the old donkey:

An old donkey was plodding around the farmyard when he inadvertently fell into a deep, dry well. He brayed forlornly for hours. The farmer finally heard him and couldn’t figure out a way to get the donkey up from the depths of the dark well.

As the poor donkey continued to bray pitifully, the farmer decided since the donkey was old, and there wasn’t a way to save him, it would be easiest to bury him. He asked his neighbors to help, so they all grabbed shovels and began heaping dirt upon the poor donkey’s back.

The donkey brayed even louder and more mournfully as the dirt hit him. But he soon quieted down and shook off the dirt as it hit him. As more dirt was shoveled upon him, he continued to shake it off and then step on it. Gradually the level of the dirt beneath him was high enough that he was able to climb out of the well that could have been his grave.

I'm sure there are plenty like me, who have had to shake off the hard times, the disappointment, the anxiety, and the expectations for immediate answers. There wasn't an express drive-thru to solve the problems; instead we had to go through them. There's a good side to hard times: we grow stronger.

I believe that God works all things for good, even though at the time it's not always understood. Now when I get hit with some dirt and shake it off, I see it as the lift I need to get out of the hole. 

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