Problems are a sign that there is life. And you can make them work for you if only you realise that they are not a dead end. Very often, when we are faced with difficult situations, we think we cannot proceed any further. We think this situation is going to be a permanent one. It is going to be with us all our life. Problems are stepping stones to a better life.
I had read the story of a girl who was about to be married. She was on the top of the world. On the day of her marriage she wore her wedding dress and had a radiant smile. She proceeded to the church where the wedding was to take place. But as soon as she arrived there, she was told that her boyfriend had changed his decision. He no longer wished to marry her. When she got this news, she felt completely unwanted and jilted. She returned home and locked herself up in a room. From that day, she continued to wear the wedding dress until it was reduced to shreds. She left the wedding cake on the table until it was reduced to dust. She stopped the clock at the time when the wedding was supposed to take place. For this girl, her problem became a dead end. Her life came to a complete standstill.
But on the other hand, there is the case of Mary Pickford. There was a time when she was a very popular American actress and was known as the world’s sweetheart. One day she was at the party when the question was raised: ‘What do you do when troubles strike?’ And Mary Pickford said “I never think of troubles, I never think of problems as a dead end, I think of them as turnings in the road.”
At the party was present the editor of a magazine. He felt interested in the answer of Mary Pickford, and invited her to write the troubles, the difficulties, the dangers, that she had faced but never thought of as dead ends. And out of this was produced that beautiful book which you will do well to study. The title of this book is, Why not try God!
Nathaniel Hawthorne, the great American novelist and storywriter, was the celebrated author of The Scarlet Letters. There was a time when he worked as a clerk at a customs office. Suddenly one day he was told that he was no longer needed in the office. He could see nothing but darkness in front of him. He came home in a depressed mood and said to his wife that he felt he had reached a dead end. His wife was a wise woman. She said to him: “God never takes us to a dead end. God only takes us to a bend in the road.” And his wife placed before him a table and blank sheets of paper, a pen and an inkpot. She gave him a hug and said to him: “You have longed for spare time so that you may be able to write something. That time has now come. This is your opportunity. Start writing what you want.” And out of this came that wonderful book, ‘The Scarlet Letters’ and several other books written by Hawthorne.
I do not read the Chinese language but I am told that it has a wonderful word for crisis. It is built up of two picture characters. One character stands for trouble. The other character stands for opportunity. So that when you are faced with a problem, you should look only beyond it. Problem is only one side of the coin. There is the other side too. And that is opportunity.
Problems become doors through which God enters our life. We have enclosed ourselves in a shell which has kept God out of our life. Problems come and crack that shell and open the way for God to enter.
Many years ago a young man came to Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani and said to him: “I am an utter failure. I have lost my job. My properties and my possessions are mortgaged. I am unable to take care of my old mother. I am unable to provide for my wife and two little children. I am afraid of facing life. Again and again, I feel so weak, so poor, so run down, so frustrated with life. What shall I do?” And to him Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani said: “My friend! You are not the weakling that you take yourself to be. You are not poor. You are very much like that wealthy man’s son, who has drifted away from his father and did not know how infinitely wealthy his father was.” This young man in sheer amazement looked at Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani and said to him: “Who is this wealthy father you’re speaking about? My own father passed away five years ago, leaving behind loans which I have not yet been able to pay back.” And Gurudev replied: “One is our heavenly Father. He is the Father of us all. And He is the source of all supply. He is the source of prosperity and plenty and peace. He is the source of health and happiness and harmony. He is the source of success and power. He is the power of wisdom and strength. He is the source of love and joy. He is the source of everything that man may need. All we need to do is to turn to Him.”
American advice columnist Ann Landers said: “If I were asked to give the most useful single bit of advice for all humanity, it would be this: expect troubles, problems, challenges as an inevitable part of life.” But when they come, hold your head high. Look them straight in the eye and say to them: I will be bigger than you, you cannot defeat me. But you will be able to do this only when there is the spirit of courage in the heart within. And this spirit of courage comes to you when you realise, when you become aware, that you are not alone. There is someone who is with you, by you, besides you, ready to help you.
This was first published in the April 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.