Two shoe salesmen were sent to a poor country where few people could afford shoes. One of them wrote to his boss discouraged and said, “There is no hope for business here. Hardly anyone wears shoes.” The other wrote back excited and said, “What a great opportunity this is! Almost everyone needs shoes!”
We all live in the same world, but how we look at its troubles makes a world of difference. “Two men looked out the same bars. One saw mud, but the other saw stars.” Do you look at the problems of life through the eyes of faith?
In one of Paul’s many prison terms, he looked at his trials differently than many Christians might have seen them. There sat the great apostle Paul, unable to travel and preach like he had done before. Why would God allow him to be a prisoner when he could have been going to places that needed the gospel? But Paul didn’t see his troubles as a hindrance to the gospel. “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). His being a prisoner didn’t hinder the gospel. It furthered it! Because Paul was arrested, people heard the gospel and preachers gained courage instead of losing it (Phil. 1:13-18). The entire book of Philippians shows Paul looking at the bright side of some bad situations.
We get disheartened because of conditions in a changing and sinful world. It is time that we look at them from a different angle.

  • The Downside of Technology. People are so dependent on their smart phones that they have lost the time and ability to communicate face to face. Young people don’t know how to look a friend in the eye and work out a conflict. All they know to do is send a message through “social” media. This is frustrating and frightening. But this trend can be an open door. God made us social beings who need and crave contact with others. Communicating through the internet and watching people on television cannot take the place of hearing the  sound of their voices and seeing the look in their eyes and the expressions on their faces when they are present. People need face-to-face conversation. This is where the church can step in and do real personal work in listening to people and showing them the way of salvation.
  • Broken Homes. About half of marriages end in divorce. Many just live together. Children are growing up hurt and angry because they have been neglected and abused. People have little idea about what it means to be a man or a woman. They don’t know how to be husbands and wives or fathers and mothers. They don’t understand loyalty, structure, and commitment. But we can see this situation as a great opportunity if we will. Showing mercy to orphans is pure religion (James 1:27). Christian women can be like mothers to these children and Christian men can be the father figure they’ve never had. Neglected kids are starving for love. Remember also that Jesus taught a woman who had been married five times (John 4:16-18).
  • Denominational Decline. Mainline denominations are losing members, especially their young people. Some quit because they are fed up with religious politics and tired of empty promises of health and wealth. Many may be so burned that they want nothing to do with religion, but others may be open to the purity of the gospel. When they talk about the bad experience they have had, we should see the door swinging open. We can teach them the Bible and show them that they have been misled. Preachers talk about reaching the “unchurched.” We need to have hope for the “churched out” as well.

Kerry Duke