By Sandy Hodgson . . . Whenever someone in our family has an “I can’t do this” approach to something, whether a physical or mental task or even just playing a game, my daughter’s response to our lamentations is usually, “Not with that attitude!”
One of my favorite books to read with my students is Hatchet by Gary Paulsen about a young boy stranded in the wilderness who must fend for himself. He quickly learns that the first rule of survival is not feeling sorry for yourself. But I love a good pity party! I also know it gets me nowhere. It’s my “not with that attitude” moment and I, embarrassingly, can have a few too many.
Did young Joseph have an “I can’t do this” attitude as he was sold by his brothers and again when he landed in prison? Or did he know that in order to survive, he couldn’t feel sorry for himself? How about David as he faced the giant? Or Queen Esther as she questions her ability to save her people? Job was certainly dealt a bad hand and deserving of playing the pity party card. A man of great wealth, health, and happiness, Job receives in the course of one day, not one but four messages that his children, livestock, and wealth are gone. While Job doesn’t adopt a Pollyanna approach to his loss and suffering, he does continue his quest for wisdom. He asks a lot of Why? Why? Why? questions and is still able to praise God from whom all blessings flow.
I’m reminded of the tale of the king that had a boulder placed on the road to see if anyone would remove it. Merchants and courtiers came by and walked around it, blaming the king for not keeping the roads clear. A peasant comes along and puts down his load and pushes and strains until he succeeds in getting the boulder to the side of the road. It was then that he notices a bag of coins in the road and a note from the king gifting the coins to whoever moved the stone away. The peasant learned that every obstacle is an opportunity to improve his condition.
The obstacles we face today appear overwhelming. We feel imprisoned like Joseph or facing giants we’re sure we can’t defeat. There is no way we can stand up alone to the injustices of our neighbor. Well, at least not with that attitude.
But what if we remembered that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (1 Timothy 1:7) Let’s ask important questions, search for wisdom, remove obstacles to improve conditions for humanity, and always praise God from whom all blessings flow.
—Sandy Hodgson is a teaching principal at Vista Ridge Academy.