Tough Times

Tough times offer us an opportunity for our faith and compassion to be seen in their rawest and most beautiful expression.

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At the beginning of the Great Depression, my father left home. He was one of many children in his family. He left home so his parents would have enough food to feed the younger kids. He hopped trains across America looking for work. When he made any money, he would send a portion back home to help out. My father could have been one of the characters depicted in John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath. It was a tough time.

One day, while riding the rail, the train passed a farm. My father jumped off and walked to the farmhouse to ask if they needed any work done. A woman answered the door and said she needed a field raked. My father spent an entire day raking the field. When he finished the job, he knocked on the door once again and asked to get paid. The woman handed my father a sandwich made of stale bread and rancid meat. Looking at the meager payment, my father handed the sandwich back to the woman and said, “It looks like you need this more than me.” He turned around and walked back to the train tracks and hopped on the next passing train in search of the next opportunity.

For nine years, this was my father’s life. He wasn’t a bum or what was then referred to as a hobo. He was like many in our nation during the Depression who had nothing. Those times forged a toughness most of us living today know nothing about. The pain and suffering of those who lived during that time are now stories we tell referencing an insulated and distant past.

Today, people are talking about being prepared for what is coming. It’s not a bad idea to make wise preparations, but having those preparations won’t prepare us for the challenges those preparations are designed to meet. Only by living through tough times can we be made tough and resilient.

Many are beginning to see the writing on the wall regarding what is taking place in our world. Fear is mounting in hearts. All is not as stable as we have been told. There still exists an illusion that life, as we know it, will remain the same forever. What we miss is the hidden gem embedded in tough times. Tough times offer us an opportunity for our faith and compassion to be seen in their rawest and most beautiful expression.

When tough times finally do come, revisit the testimonies of those in your family line who lived through their own tough times. The ones that survived emotionally and spiritually never abandoned compassion or lost hope. In their most desperate moments, they were willing to hand back a sad sandwich to those in greater need and move on in hope knowing that God will always make a way even when that way was not yet visible. 


This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins

Featured Image by Allauddin Yousafzai from Pixabay

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About the Author

Garris Elkins is a Kingdom Winds Contributor. He and his wife, Jan, serve the global Church through writing, speaking, and mentoring. They live in southern Oregon, tucked away in the foothills of the Rogue Valley. Their shared desire is to have each person learn how to hear the heart of God and become a transforming voice in their culture.

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