Hensley to Heart: Look For The Good In The Midst of The Bad

Published 8:18 pm Monday, March 21, 2022

To borrow words from the song that was sung regularly on the old Hee-Haw television show, “Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair, and agony on me.” (Lyrics By. Bernie Brillstein, Frank Peppiatt and John Aylesworth. Recorded By. Buck Owens and Roy Clark.)

If a person isn’t careful, turning on the local and international news can make the words of this silly song seem very real. Life is full of challenges for each of us. How we meet those difficult situations is largely up to us.

I heard a gentleman speak of a Bible character this morning who knew a lot about hard times. The Apostle Paul started out as a really horrible man. He was a self-righteous, privileged, Pharisee in pursuit of destroying everyone who followed the Christian faith in the first century after Christ’s death and resurrection. He inflicted the grossest punishments and atrocities on these believers imaginable.

However, God got his attention on a journey to Damascus, where he was in pursuit of more Christians to persecute. After a personal encounter, he realized he had been following his own ambitions and not God’s. He was forever changed.

In the course of his life, he suffered many things. He was thrown in prison multiple times, beaten, flogged, taken to court on false charges, rejected, and cast out. On one occasion when he was on his way to Rome, he was shipwrecked. If that wasn’t bad enough, after having lost everything including the boat, he was bitten by a venomous snake that crawled out of the wood he was gathering to build a fire!

Many seasons in his life looked like opportunities for gloom, despair, and agony. It is very probably that he felt all those things to some degree through his series of life events and difficulties. How he responded to those things, however, is the most remarkable thing.

When he was in prison, he prayed for his jailers. When he was imprisoned, he sang songs to God from his jail cell. When he was shipwrecked, he brought the love of God to the island people of Malta. When he stood on trial before those who could snuff out his life, he used it as an opportunity to speak to them of the love of God for mankind. When he was sentenced to expulsion and isolation on an island for the rest of his older days, he is credited with writing 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament in the Bible.

This man never stopped looking for the good opportunities in the worst of situations. He never stopped believing that God would take the bad and turn it into good.

The situation in Ukraine is a huge question on many people’s minds. So many are suffering and have lost life, loved ones, personal belongings, home. How can there possibly be anything good to come out of such devastation? Many times, our gloom and despair come out of our short-sidedness. We can’t see the future or the big picture that will unfold.

There are many humanitarian acts of kindness going on in multiple countries around the world which are also going through war and political conflict, hunger, and disease. If we focus on the horrific as we are on the outside looking on, it would be easy to lose hope.

When we find ourselves in the middle of personal chaos, loss, sickness, and heartache, it is easy to feel like the world has lost all joy, all beauty, all redemption. Only after the crisis has passed and we have come through to the other side can we see the goodness that was happening in the middle of our heartache, all around us, and inside of us. Looking back at the events and the outcome from a different perspective makes all the difference.

Finding the good, anticipating with faith and hope the breakthroughs that will come while we are in the middle of hardships makes all the difference.

Judith Victoria Hensley is a retired teacher, writer, photographer and columnist for over 25 years for Harlan Enterprise.