I sometimes wonder if I’m just too easily amused, but I got a big kick out of the old joke about a fellow who showed up for work visibly upset.
His coworkers gathered around and asked what was wrong.
“My wife has been missing for about a month, and the detective working the case came by the house this morning and told me something that hit me like a ton of bricks. He said my wife has been missing long enough that I may want to prepare for the worst.”
“I was just floored,” he continued. “I hadn’t considered that. So, when he left, I drove down to Goodwill to get her clothes back.”
There’s an old saying that we should prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It would seem that the Apostle Paul might have lived by that mantra. He would go into cities that were hostile to Christianity to preach the gospel. He was undeterred by what could go wrong. Instead, he pressed ahead, proclaiming the gospel of Christ everywhere he went.
Paul also urged all believers to get prepared for the spiritual attacks they’d surely face when they present Christ to a lost world.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17).
In Paul’s faith journey, he faced all manner of hardships. He was imprisoned. He was beaten with lashes and with rods. He was stoned. He was shipwrecked.
“I have been in danger from rivers and from bandits, in danger from my countrymen and from the Gentiles, in danger in the city and in the country, in danger on the sea and among false brothers, in labor and toil and often without sleep, in hunger and thirst and often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Corinthians 11:26-27).
Paul was prepared to face whatever hardship he faced in this life, because he had prepared for a better life to come yonder in Glory Land. Those preparations were made the day he met Jesus and committed his life to Him.
People everywhere need to make those same preparations by asking Jesus into their hearts and lives.
Too often, we’re like the fellow in the old joke who hadn’t thought to prepare for the worst.
Roger Alford offers words of encouragement to residents of America’s heartland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.