"There’s darkness down there,” our four-year-old granddaughter whispered as she peered down the stairs.

She was right. Bright spots on planet earth seem scarce these days.

Hard Times
I’m a humorist. I love cheering people up. During COVID-19, I’ve posted things such as, “I miss makin’ restaurant waiters laugh by sayin’ stuff like, ‘Bring me some turtle soup and make it snappy.’ ” In April, I told my wife, “I’m pretty excited about my car. We got 43 days to the litre.”

But life can drain our joy tank. A few years ago, we made a Can’t Miss Investment in a hotel. Believe me, it missed. The bank foreclosed. Thankfully, I diversified and invested in some airline stocks. Oh, wait.

But friends have lost far worse. Some have lost businesses; others have lost hope. We know a little about tough times, too. My wife battles epilepsy. We lost five immediate family members in one year.

Comforting Others
Two thoughts about hardship have helped bring back the joy:

Expect It 
Jesus never said, “In this world you will have ease.” He said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Wise parents never encourage the notion that everything will be wonderful. Unrealistic expectations set us up for disappointment. Life is hard. This old world is busted. Whoever said, “If the world didn’t suck we’d all fall off,” was on to something.

Redeem It
And Jesus never said, “Be of good fear. The world has overcome me.” He said, “Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 King James Bible).

I sometimes whine. I say, “My seedless watermelon has a seed in it.” “My electric toothbrush died. Now I have to move my arm.”

But when I leave Whine Country for a place called Gratitude, everything changes. Joy grows best in the soil of thanksgiving.

Nothing will happen to us that God cannot redeem.

Jesus’ death brought hope, redemption and eternal life. Because we have experienced His comfort in hardship, we are able to comfort others.

Brick by Brick
In 1916, Kirk Christiansen turned his love of carving wood into a tiny company that began in a carpenter’s shop in Denmark. When the housing market collapsed, the shop started manufacturing toys. But in 1924, Kirk’s sons accidentally set fire to a pile of wood chips and the now-successful business burned to the ground, along with the family home.

In 1929, the American stock market crashed. Three years later, Kirk’s wife died. Kirk laid off his staff and struggled to make ends meet. But tragedy laid a foundation for one of the world’s great comeback stories.

Because times were so difficult, he made the tough decision to change directions and, though bankruptcy pushed him off track briefly, Kirk persevered. In time, he staked the firm’s future on some small interlocking plastic bricks and renamed the company “Play Well.” We know the beloved toy manufacturer by another name: Lego. Last year, its sales surpassed $5 billion.

A Real Headache
In AD 33, a remarkably mediocre and fickle band of disciples listened to Jesus’ last words before He left this broken world. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). One by one they lost their lives, but a work had begun that would turn the world right-side up.

Yes, it’s dark down here. But the light of the world has promised His presence. The same God who raised Joseph from prison, Moses from a basket, Rahab from a brothel and our Saviour from the dead is with us today.

And my granddaughter is, too. Here is her latest prayer, uttered when my son was sick: “Dear God, please take Daddy’s headache away. And give it to Satan. Amen.”

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