The Slingshot Principle
by Mary Loudermilk
Life doesn’t always go as expected. Trouble comes to all of us, unexpectedly and sometimes intensely. Such times define our character and test our strength. It has been said that, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.
Oliver Wendell Holmes stated, “If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don’t embrace trouble; that’s as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend, for you’ll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.”
A minister friend has developed what he calls “The Slingshot Principle.” Like the stone in the pocket of a slingshot, we want to move forward in life but it seems that the more we strive, adversity pulls us back and back and back some more. Eventually, when we feel we can take no more, the pressure releases and we shoot forward beyond what we could even anticipate. It seems we must go back before we go forward, and this is not easy to understand, especially in the middle of a difficult situation.
The Bible story of Joseph, found in Genesis 37-41, illustrates the Slingshot Principle. Joseph was the favored son of his father-and despised by his older brothers. This was more than a simple case of sibling rivalry. When the opportunity presented itself, the brothers placed Joseph in a pit and devised a plan to kill him. Then followed a better plan. Joseph was “in the slingshot”-sold to a passing caravan, taken to Egypt, sold as a slave, falsely accused, and put in prison. Years passed, and the backward pressure was intense.
Joseph’s story does not end there. A series of events brought him before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. Joseph revealed that a time of plenty followed by a great famine would come upon Egypt, and he told how they should prepare. The pressure of the slingshot released, propelling him from the pit and prison to the palace. Pharaoh asked, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God? … You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
A modern day story of triumph is that of Admiral Jim Stockdale, who for eight years endured torture as a prisoner of war in the “Hanoi Hilton.” When interviewed by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, Stockdale stated of this horrific period of his life, “I never doubted not only that I would get out but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect, I would not trade.”
All of us will face trouble in life and feel that backward stretch. We must remember that, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
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