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“The Cast of Your Misfortune!” 1 Peter 5: 1-10 Key verse(s): 9: “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kin do sufferings.”

One of the loneliest times in anyone’s life is when suffering strikes and it puts you into a category of one. That’s the peculiar thing about suffering. Not only is there the pain and handicap to bear, but there is also the propensity for those who suffer to turn inward, away from the help of others. This is a natural tendency among sinful men since we are by nature corrupted and able to think only about ourselves. That’s why when suffering knocks on our door and we open our lives to it, we find it convenient, even comfortable to withdraw into the one thing we know that brings at least some relief, ourselves.

But, where does God want us to be when we are afflicted? Is He content to allow us to retreat into ourselves in hopes that our self-pity will eventually embolden us to face the world again? Or, does God have a different plan for those who suffer; one that involves others, others who may be suffering as well?

Somerset Maugham, the English writer, once wrote a story about a janitor at St Peter’s Church in London. One day a young vicar discovered that the janitor was illiterate and fired him. Without the ability to read or write, the future looked pretty bleak. Jobless, the man decided to invest his meager savings in a tiny tobacco shop. He was good at what he did and in but a short period of time he began to prosper. In that prosperity he decided that it would be a sound investment to purchase another tobacco store. So he did. Prosperity continued to rain down upon the man and in time he purchased a third store, then a fourth. Eventually he owned an entire chair of tobacco stores worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. In a few short years he had become quite prosperous and wealthy. He had, nonetheless, never learned to read or write.

One day the man’s banker said, “You’ve done well for an illiterate, but where would you be if you could read and write?” “Well,” replied the man, “I’d be janitor of St. Peter’s Church in Neville Square.” (Bits and Pieces, June 24, 1993, p. 23.)

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