(PART 1)





1.      Story.


A fellow named George owned an apartment complex and had just completed the exterior brickwork on the second floor.  He had some bricks left over and was trying to decide the best way to get the load of bricks back down to ground level without breaking them.


He noticed a fifty-five-gallon barrel on the ground and thought, "I know what I'll do.  I'll tie some rope around that barrel, hook a pulley to the second-floor eave and pull the barrel up to the second floor.  Then I can load the bricks into the barrel and let it back down to the ground."


So, that's what he began to do.  He tied the rope around the barrel, ran it over the pulley on the second floor and pulled the barrel up to second-story level.  Then he tied the rope to the root of a nearby tree.  He went up to the second floor balcony and loaded the bricks into the barrel.  Then he went back downstairs, grabbed the rope and pulled it loose from the root.


Now, folks, that fifty-five-gallon drum full of bricks was four times heavier than George.  So the barrel shot down lickety-split, and George shot up lickety-split.  And you know what happened.  As George shot past the barrel, it hit his shoulder, slammed against his hip and whomped his kneecap.  The barrel crashed to the ground, and George's head smashed into the pulley above, cracking his skull.  There he was, dangling by the rope from the second-story roof.


When the barrel hit the ground, the bricks were so heavy they knocked the bottom out of the barrel.  Yep!  Down he went, and up it came.  This time, the barrel caught him on the other side.  It whomped his other knee, scraped past his other hip, broke his nose and dumped him on top of the pile of leftover bricks below.  He turned both ankles, scuffed up his shins, and the corners of the bricks punched him in the side.  So George let out a yell and turned loose of the rope.


You guessed it.  Now the barrel was four times heavier than the rope, so it came bombing down on top of George to finish the job from the previous hit-and-run.  And George found himself lying in the hospital, bruised, sprained and broken, saying to himself, "I don't know whether to file one insurance claim or five."


2.      This story illustrates, and I am sure that you would agree, that life is full of ups and downs.  Just when our lives seem to be in order, the bottom falls out.  Then when we recover from that blow, more problems come crashing down on us.  Let's face it, life is full of problems. 


a.       We all have financial struggles.


b.      We all lose love ones to death.


c.       We all experience sickness.


d.      We all battle with stress and anxiety.


e.       We all have problems.




One cold day in January of 1994, while I was working as an associate Minister in Texas, I decided to work at home instead at the office.  The heater at home was much better than the ancient heater installed at the church.


On that cold and fringed morning, my wife told me point blank-- "If you don't take out the trash today, I'm divorcing you."  I said, "honey, I'll take care of it.  Don't worry about it."   


About 11 o'clock that morning, as I was comfortably sitting in my lazy boy recliner, reading the Bible, I heard the trash mobile drive up our street.  The sound of that truck immediately prompted my mind to think, "Keith, you forgot to take the trash out again, and this time, it's going to cost your marriage."  Even today, the sound of a trash truck gives me anxiety attacks. 


Since I didn't want to lose my marriage, I immediately jumped out of my chair, grabbed the trash, ran out the front door, and placed the trash in its proper pickup place just as the garbage collector pulled up.  I made it.  I saved my marriage.  As I was walking back to the door, glorying in victory, I realized that I was freezing.  You see, since I was in such a hurry to deliver the trash, I didn't check to see what I was wearing.  And when I looked down, I noticed I was wearing my boxer shorts and a muscle shirt. 


Since I didn't want my neighbors to see me, I made a dash to the front door.  However, when I turned the doorknob, it wouldn't move.  I (a preacher) had locked myself out of my house with no backup key wearing boxer shorts in 19-degree weather.  Brethren, I had a problem.  My options were simple.  Freeze to death on the porch until my wife came home from work, or walk to a neighbor's house in my underwear to use the telephone.  I was desperate.  I walked to eight different homes until finally a woman answered the door and allowed me to use the telephone.  My wife brought me a key.  Still today, Mary has a hard time believing that the reason I was at another woman's house in my underwear was because I locked myself out of the house. 


3.      You see, we all have problems, some are a little more embarrassing than others.  God never promised that we would live a problem-free life.  Many passages indicate that we will experience hard times.



4.      We will have problems, however, when problems occur, we can defeat them. 







1.      When problems strike, most people get angry, bitter, discouraged, and many times depressed.  However, the Bible teaches that when problems occur, we should rejoice and maintain a good attitude.


a.      The word for rejoice literally means to "glory in."  We are to glory in our sufferings.


2.      Why should we glory in our sufferings?  Because suffering produces patience, character, and hope.  In other words, suffering is designed to make us better not bitter people.  God allows us to have problems so that we may mature and grow in our faith and in our character.


3.      When a problem invades our lives, instead of sinking into despair and focusing on the negative aspect of the problem, we should look at the good that could come out of it. Something good can come out of our pain.


4.      The next time you encounter a problem that is causing you mental or physical pain, try to maintain a positive attitude.  Remember that something good can come from your pain.  There will be a rainbow at the end of the tunnel.


5.      If we want to triumph over our problems, we need to rejoice in the Lord.  We are to be like the prophet Habakkuk, who said in (Habakkuk 3:17-18):




1.      Listen to what Jesus taught in (Mt. 6:34). 


2.      If we bring yesterday's troubles and tomorrow's problems in today, then we will be so burdened down with stress that we will not be able to function properly in the present.  We have enough problems to deal with in one day than to deal with past and future concerns as well.  Jesus wants us to live one day at a time and not worry with past or future problems.




Ralph Waldo Emerson's daughter was away from home attending school.  In corresponding with her famous father, she made it clear to him that she was brooding over a past mistake that had left her with a troubled conscience.  Emerson wrote his daughter and said:


Finish every day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; but get rid of them and forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day, and you should never encumber its potentialities and invitations with the dread of the past.  You should not waste a moment of today on the rottenness of yesterday.


3.      Maybe you are living with a sense of failure and guilt, an unhappy realization that you haven't been the kind of person you ought to be.  Maybe the problems of the past have been weighing heavily on you and squelching your happiness.


4.      If you are in this situation, you can triumph over your problems and start living a happy life if you start living one day at a time and forgetting your past mistakes. 




1.      When problems arise, if we maintain a positive attitude and live one-day at time, and stop worrying about yesterdays and tomorrow's concerns, we are on our way to personal happiness and we will triumph over our problems.