January 18th, 2021

Staying positive despite adversity

By Submitted Article on February 15, 2020.

To be of value

Second of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

The highest trees catch the most wind. Prominent positions attract public scrutiny and criticism.

Leaders in public and private service should try to keep being of value despite attacks by media and opponents. They should stay true to their real selves and beliefs and not be swept away by emotional feuds and defamation.

As the rhetoric heated up in the U.S. Senate, the presiding judge admonished both prosecution and defence to moderate their language, remembering who and where they were.

When a president has suffered relentless and degrading attacks since the election campaign and his election, it must be hard for him to stay positive and do the right things regardless.

However, if the president or anyone else provokes attacks by offensive words and attitude, they are at least partly responsible for their predicament.

John 8 ends with the mob picking up stones to kill Jesus, because he said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” They knew God revealed himself to Moses as “I am.” They thought Jesus blasphemed by equaling himself to God.

When Jesus left the temple ground, rejected and threatened, he saw a blind beggar and had mercy on him (John 9). The hatred of the mob did not rob Jesus of his compassion for the needy. When rejected, most people are inclined to vent their anger on something or somebody.

Jesus multiplied a few loaves and fishes to feed more than 5,000. They were so ecstatic about the miracle that they wanted to crown him king right away. He declined the honour, and the crowds lost interest in him. He went to neighbour countries to the north and east to heal a few people (John 6, Mark 7:24-37). The rejection by Israel did not embitter him.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus was welcomed with Hosannas in Jerusalem, and six days later they shouted, “Crucify him!”

As he said on the cross, they did not know what they were doing. Despite their blindness and rejection, he proceeded with the plan of salvation by becoming the ultimate atoning sacrifice. He stayed positive in a caustic atmosphere.

When persecution broke out in Jerusalem, believers had to flee. Wherever they went they spread the good news of forgiveness in Christ. They maintained a positive approach despite rejection.

On all three of St. Paul’s journeys, there came a time to flee from one region to the next. At every new place, he brought the gospel and planted a church. In this way, evangelization was accelerated.

While in exile on the island Patmos, the apostle John had visions about the end time, which he recorded and handed down to the church of the past 20 centuries.

Compassion accomplishes more than anger. Love triumphs over hatred.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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