Activated - - NEWS - By Pa­tri­cia Fort­ner

I re­mem­ber my mother of­ten re­mind­ing us chil­dren to “look on the bright side” and “be thank­ful for the lit­tle things.” If we'd com­plain about the hot weather in mid-June, she'd point out, “At least we can go swim­ming, right?” If we'd com­plain about not hav­ing dessert one night, she'd ask, “Doesn't that make you thank­ful for the nights we do have dessert?” She tried to teach us to take ev­ery seem­ingly “bad” or “sad” sit­u­a­tion we faced and look for some­thing that we could ap­pre­ci­ate or be happy about. She called this con­cept “look­ing for the sil­ver lin­ing.” Ac­cord­ing to the Ox­ford On­line Dic­tionary, the

1 English id­iom “ev­ery cloud has a sil­ver lin­ing” means that ev­ery dif­fi­cult or sad sit­u­a­tion has a com­fort­ing or a more hope­ful as­pect, even though it may not be ap­par­ent im­me­di­ately.

Many of God's peo­ple were faced with dif­fi­cult or try­ing cir­cum­stances and needed to find the “bright side” of the sit­u­a­tion in or­der to sur­vive. Take Paul and Si­las, for ex­am­ple. In the book of Acts, we read about them preach­ing the gospel and bring­ing peo­ple to Christ in Philippi. Un­for­tu­nately, some of the city's el­ders roused an an­gry mob against them:

“The crowd joined in the at­tack against Paul and Si­las, and the mag­is­trates or­dered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.

“After they had been se­verely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was com­manded to guard them care­fully.

“When he re­ceived th­ese or­ders, he put them in the in­ner cell and fas­tened their feet in the stocks.

“Around mid­night, Paul and Si­las were pray­ing and singing hymns to God, and the other pris­on­ers were lis­ten­ing to them.”


They could have spent their time in prison com­plain­ing and wish­ing for free­dom. They could have given up and cursed God for al­low­ing them to be beaten and im­pris­oned, just as Job's wife ad­vised him to do. But in­stead, Paul and

3 Si­las spent their time in jail “pray­ing and singing hymns to God,” and He re­warded their praise:

“Sud­denly there was such a vi­o­lent earth­quake that the foun­da­tions of the prison were shaken. And at once all the prison doors flew open, and ev­ery­one's chains came loose.”

4 This was their big chance! They could es­cape! But in­stead of high­tail­ing it out of there, they stayed and told the jailer, “We are all here!” Be­ing im­pris­oned is a dread­ful cir­cum­stance, but Paul and Si­las found a sil­ver lin­ing when they were able to preach the gospel to the jailer and bring sal­va­tion to him and his fam­ily.

5 Our fam­ily faced a “storm cloud” of sorts when a friend bor­rowed our ve­hi­cle while we were on va­ca­tion and to­taled it. Then it seemed the in­sur­ance com­pany might not process our claim, be­cause our friend wasn't on our in­sur­ance plan. So you can imag­ine that we had a very hard time look­ing on the bright side of this sit­u­a­tion.

One day, after get­ting off the phone yet again with our in­sur­ance com­pany, I was com­plain­ing to my­self about our sit­u­a­tion: the car, our bills, our health prob­lems, and just about my gen­eral sorry lot in life. I then hap­pened to glance over to the news­pa­per on my desk, and that's when I saw that com­pared to so many, I have so, so much to be thank­ful for:

• Even though we had to put a large amount of money into buy­ing an­other car, and take on a loan, it’s a much bet­ter car than the pre­vi­ous one. And the auto in­sur­ance com­pany fi­nally agreed to pay to­ward the dam­ages.

• Even though I work crazy hours, I have a good job that is pro­vid­ing steady in­come.

• Even though we’ve had high med­i­cal bills from past health is­sues both my hus­band and I had, the phys­i­cal ther­apy is work­ing and our health is im­prov­ing.

So, yes, los­ing our car wasn't easy, and be­ing in­debted in or­der to pay for the new one isn't fun ei­ther, but no one said life would be a breeze. The next time I find my­self in a tough sit­u­a­tion, like Paul and Si­las, I'll try to choose to thank God for the sil­ver lin­ing in­stead of ques­tion­ing Him about the un­pleas­ant things He's al­lowed to hap­pen.

1. See https://en.ox­ford­dic­tionar­ /def­i­ni­tion/sil­ver#sil­ver__13 2. Acts 16:22–25 NIV 3. See Job 2:9. 4. Acts 16:26 NIV 5. Read the full story in Acts 16:19–34.

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