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By Dr. Rick Koole
Pastor of LifePointe Church 

When opportunity knocks


Last updated 9/8/2018 at 1:49pm

In 1962, Victor and Mildred Goertzel published a revealing study of 413 “famous and exceptionally gifted people” called Cradles of Eminence. They spent years attempting to understand what produced such greatness, what common thread might run through the lives of all of these outstanding people. Surprisingly, the most outstanding fact was that virtually all of them, (392 of the 413) had to overcome very difficult obstacles in order to become who they were.

Despite the overwhelming obstacles, they were able to recognize a unique opportunity and pursue it with persistence and vigor. Observing this unusual phenomenon, Andy Andrews remarked, “Times of calamity and distress have always been producers of the greatest people. The hardest of steel is produced from the hottest fire.”

What obstacles and opportunities are you facing this week? Consider the following:

Many opportunities lie hidden inside our pains, problems and failures. Great opportunities are often preceded by great opposition. It was Norman Vincent Peale who observed, “When God wants to send you a gift, he wraps it up in a problem… and the bigger the gift that God sends you, the bigger the problem.”

I never cease to be amazed when I consider all that Helen Keller overcame. When asked about her trials and suffering, she explained how they had been a blessing and had helped her become the woman she was, declaring, “Character can’t be developed in ease and quiet. Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.” As the old adage says, “Don't ask for a light load, but rather ask for a strong back.”

Sufferings and setbacks can prepare you for special opportunities. Few have ever experienced as many setbacks as Winston Churchill. And yet he continued to press on until the right door of opportunity swung open. As he liked to remind people, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” The fear of failure has caused so many people to settle for mediocrity. With every failure a person must choose to become either bitter or better. F. D. Mattiesen summed it up observing, “He who has never failed somewhere, that man cannot be great. Failure is the true test of greatness.”

Don’t let discouragement short circuit opportunity. Some of you are exhausted and discouraged and want to quit. Let me suggest instead that you determine to press on. Calvin Coolidge said, “Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Don’t waste the sorrows you’ve already experienced. The Bible tells us that we should use the experiences we’ve learned during times of suffering to comfort others who are stuck in the middle of a painful trial. “Praise be to the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (II Corinthians 1:4)

Be intentional this week about looking for a suffering person who might be comforted knowing that you have also gone through a similar suffering, and not only survived, but grew better, not bitter, because of it.


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