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Ornery people tend to attract people who are prone to have low self-esteem. The reasons for this are many and varied, but some people feel secure around a strong leader who gives them a sense of strength, courage and determination. While giving interviews for new students applying to our theological seminary in Nigeria, one applicant named Bello, told our interview panel a story of his failed attempt to join the Nigerian Army. The young man used his brother to take the English language proficiency exam to insure his successful acceptance. After one year in the Army, he heard that the General Officer in Charge of their brigade would be making an inspection of the troops. This particular General always asked the troops under review three questions: First, "How old are you?" Second, How long have you been in the army?" Third, Do you enjoy being in the military?"

Bello knew that his English proficiency was not that good so he decided to memorize the answers to the three questions in advance, in case the General stopped to ask him the questions on the day of inspection. He said to himself on his way to the inspection line, "20 years, Sir." "One year, Sir." "Yes, Sir." He rehearsed the answers to the three questions ahead of time. The big day arrived and after a few minutes the General stood before young private Bello and asked his three questions. Except, on this special day, the General reversed the order of the first two questions. The General said, "How long have you been in the army, soldier?" Bello was too nervous to think, so he said, "20 years, Sir!" The General shook his head and proceeded to the second question. "How old are you soldier?" Bello continued, "One year, Sir!" Then the General became annoyed and shouted at Bello, "Do you think I am a fool?" Bello, did not know what else to say because of his limited English proficiency, so he shouted back, "Yes, Sir!"

Needless, to say, Bello's career in the army was terminated when the officers discovered the truth. Regardless of whatever obstacles we face, the Lord knows how to lift us out of our valleys of despair, deceit, and unfruitfulness. The following suggestions are offered as helpful guidelines for whatever difficulties you might be facing:

1. Depression (Feelings of dejection, sadness, apathy, inertia, difficulty in gaining energy or excitement, fatigue, pessimism, hopelessness, fear, attitudes of worthlessness, hopelessness, loss of interest, inability to experience pleasure, a loss of self-esteem or potential) is experienced by everyone in some degree and at different times in life. N. Kline wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association (1990:732-40), "More suffering has resulted from depression than from any other single disease affecting mankind." What a different world this would be if people would only magnify their blessings the way they do their troubles.

2. David wrote in Psalm 43 feelings of depression and discouragement, "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance, and my God." David knew that by taking his focus away from his own troubles and shifting them to the power, purposes, plans, processes, and promises of God, he would be delivered from feelings of gloom. All of us need a faith that will not shrink when washed in the waters of affliction and adversity.

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