Show me a person who has never experienced any problems in his or her life and I will show you someone who has never existed. There is a contradiction in the challenge; if he has never existed how I can exhibit him or her before you.
There are people who think other people never do have problems. The poor and unemployed think that the rich and those who have jobs are living free from problems.
But see what Confucius, the Chinese ageless sage, said: “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”
In other words, it is in the course of tackling problems that we get improved in whatever sense you may imagine.
The rich and the gainfully employed may not be bothered by concerns such as what shall I have for my next supper or where shall I sleep. True enough these are the problems of the majority of the poor and the unemployed.
The rich worry about how to preserve their property and often they are targets of criminals. Sometimes there arise conflicts within their families. We have come across wealthy couples who have divorced and have fought bitterly over alimony or custody of children; on the other hand, not rarely have we come across couples with moderate means who have lived to ripe old age.
Problems that we encounter are of varying gravity. To a large extent how big the problem is depends on a person’s attitude and personality. If you worry about everything negative that happens, you live miserably. Happy people are those who give no thought to trivial insults. When they are involved in what is obviously a grave problem, they reason.
Is this the kind of problem I can handle? If they perceive that they can solve it, they go ahead working on it. If they perceive that it is beyond human ability to solve, they just accept what has happened and final.
What, for example, can you do beyond weeping when you have lost your beloved one? These people do not dwell on what they have lost but make use of what they still have to get what they want next.
Where there is life there are problems, struggles and possible solutions.
Said President Theodore Roosevelt of the United States: “I wish to preach not the doctrine of ignoble ease but the doctrine of strenuous life, the life of toil and effort. Our country calls not for the life of ease but for the life of strenuous endeavour. Never give up on the strenuous life.”
Victor Hugo, a French writer and philosopher, had this to say: “Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones.
When you have labouriously accomplished your day’s task, go to sleep, God is awake.”
How do you respond to the person you meet on the road who says: “How are you? How is home? How is business?” “In responding to these questions, be on guard. If you give the enquirer full situation of your personal and business life, will that contribute to the solution of your problems? Are you talking to the type of person who will give you the help you need? If you doubt, do not let anyone know too much about you.
Some people inwardly rejoice when they see that you are suffering or you have problems while others will despise you when they know you are helpless. Why do we go about fully dressed? Is it not because we do not want other people to know the full structure of our bodies? Certain thoughts and problems are better kept strictly confidential. Talk about them with God.
God, yes, when most people are confronted by a serious problem, they turn their hearts and lips to God. For those who do not, William James, the pioneer American psychologist, had this to say: “Refuse to believe, and you shall indeed be right, for you shall irretrievably perish. But believe and again you shall be right, for you shall save yourselves.”
Great sages have turned to prayers for answers to the perplexities of life. A sample will do. Plato the ancient Greek philosopher prayed: “Lord of Lords grant us the good whether we pray for it or not but evil keep from us even though we pray for it.”
Abraham Lincoln, one of the three greatest of American presidents confessed thus: “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go, my own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.”
Some prayers are made through hymns; part of “What a friend we have in Jesus” reads:
“Do thy friends despise, forsaken thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee.
Thou will find comfort there.
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