Most of us would agree that life has its ups and downs. Wise King Solomon believed this and reflected on our responses to fluctuating circumstances. In Ecclesiastes, he wrote: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (3:1-4).
In the episodes of an old television show, the veteran police lieutenant always said this to the young officers on their way out to the street for their day’s assignments: “Be careful out there!” It was both good advice and a word of compassion because he knew what could happen to them in the line of duty.
After a global financial crisis, the US government enacted stricter laws to protect people from questionable banking practices. Banks had to change some of their policies to comply. To notify me of such changes, my bank sent me a letter. But when I got to the end I had more questions than answers. The use of phrases like “we may” and “at our discretion” certainly didn’t sound like anything I could depend on!
You give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37). It’s easy to miss those words from Jesus. A huge crowd had gathered to hear Him. Late in the day, the disciples got nervous and started pressing Him to send them away (v.36). “You give them something to eat,” Jesus replied (v.37).
When my wife and I were engaged, her dad gave us a special wedding present. As a watchmaker and jeweler, he made our wedding rings. To make my wedding band, Jim used gold scraps left over from resizing other rings—scraps that were seemingly without much value. But in the hands of this craftsman, those pieces became a thing of beauty that I cherish to this day. It is amazing what a master craftsman can do with what others might view as useless.
Before they were a week old, the eaglets were fighting over food. Neither was strong enough to hold up his head for more than a few seconds, so the pair looked like fuzzballs with bobble-heads attached. But whenever the parents brought food to the nest, the bigger eaglet was quick to peck down his brother to keep him from getting a single bite. His aggression would have been understandable if food was scarce, or if the parents couldn’t be trusted to supply what he needed. But nothing could be further from the truth. The eaglets were being fed fish many times their size; there was more than enough for both of them.
In one of Joe Morgenstern’s weekly Wall Street Journal columns about movies, he considered the impact of the great film stars in close-up scenes where they said nothing at all. “Movie stars,” he wrote, “can do as little as they do at crucial moments because, having already earned our respect, they can assume that we’re paying attention.” This quality of powerful silence that we admire in actors and actresses, however, can be frustrating or disappointing in our relationship with God when He is silent.
Historian Cassius Dio recorded a revealing event from the life of Hadrian, the Roman Emperor from ad 117–138: “Once, when a woman made a request of [Hadrian] as he passed by on a journey, he at first said to her, ‘I haven’t time,’ but afterwards, when she cried out, ‘Cease, then, being emperor,’ he turned about and granted her a hearing.”