Douglas Fairbanks, the famous actor, was driving back to his mansion in England when he saw an Englishman plodding along the road in the heat. The stranger looked familiar, so Fairbanks stopped to offer him a ride, which was gratefully accepted. As they drove along, Fairbanks wracked his brain trying to remember where he knew the aristocratic, well-dressed, gentleman. Still unable to remember who he was, Fairbanks invited the man into his house for some refreshment, and to try to elicit some clues to his identity. The visitor knew many of Fairbanks’ friends, and seemed familiar with the estate - commenting favorably on some recent improvements.
When Fairbanks’ secretary finally walked into the room, Fairbanks took him aside and whispered the question that had been plaguing him: ‘Who is this Englishman? I know he’s Lord somebody, but I can’t remember his name.’
‘That,’ replied the secretary, ‘is the English butler you fired last month for getting drunk.’
Problems have a way of returning to haunt us. Not just once or twice, but again and again and again. Just about the time you think you’re through with a difficulty, a new one takes its place. Just about the time you think you’re rid of an inconvenience, there it is again in all its glory.
It is the nature of life to throw obstacles in our path. But at the same time, it’s our nature, as we share in the Spirit of Christ, to keep on going. It is our nature to grow through adversity.
Beethoven’s composition teacher pronounced him a hopeless dunce who couldn’t learn anything. Lucille Ball was fired from the chorus of a road company and told by a Ziegfeld aide, “you’re not meant for show business. Go home.” Rudyard Kipling was fired from his first job as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and told he didn’t know how to use the English language. Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote Tarzan of the Apes, didn’t think it was much of a story and doubted if anyone would read it. They all had troubles return to them, and they all grew through the adversity.
The point of the whole process is this: Overcoming trouble is the only way we can grow as individuals. The world knocks us down, God raises us up and we start out again. The world knocks us down, God raises us up and we start out again. And in that repetitious cycle our faith takes root, our inner strength blossoms, and our character begins to resemble the character of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ himself was thought to be a dangerous failure, with his message of love and forgiveness. He was nailed to a cross and written off as finished. But far from being done, God raised him up and he started out again. And because he rose and lives in us, we can do the same.
Troubles always return. But so does Jesus Christ. And with his strength and Spirit we can outlast any trial the world may send our way.