Tag Archives: adversity


This definition doesn’t sound very technical, but it communicates: “A first responder is someone who is trained to run toward trouble, not away from it.” Even with sophisticated training, people still have to respond appropriately.

The collapse of a 350 foot section of I-85 in Atlanta could have been tragic. 250,000 cars travel that stretch of highway every day. The billowing dark smoke raging from the fire underneath obscured the vision of startled motorists. Collisions seemed inevitable. Once the roadway began to disintegrate, vehicles could have plunged into the gap. People should have been hurt or killed. No one was.

Atlanta Fire Station #29 is located two blocks from where the calamity occurred. Fire personnel responded immediately to assess the danger. A number of them stood under the bridge to determine the extent of the damage while the fire was still gaining strength. As it was becoming certain that the intense heat would be too much for the concrete and steel structures, fire officials ordered their teams to move away … just in time. No one was hurt, no one was killed.

Above on the interstate, Georgia State troopers and Atlanta police had already halted traffic. Risking their lives as cars and trucks kept coming they prevented any possibility of injury and death by their quick action.

Col. Mark McDonough from the Georgia Department of Public Safety was one of many officials who tried to describe the scene for the public. His first words were directed to the first responders. He thanked law enforcement and fire department personnel and then he looked sky ward and thanked the Lord. No one was hurt, no one was killed.

Atlanta is in a mess and will be for months. A poster I saw months ago had a picture of that same highway crowded with bumper-to-bumper traffic. The heading of the poster read: “Thinking of moving to Atlanta?” At the base was this comment: “We full.”

“Inconvenience” does not begin to describe what life will be like in a city already infamous for its traffic congestion. For small businesses in the affected area, the months ahead can spell doom.

Going forward will define direction … not just alternative routes to travel but the attitude we demonstrate. Adversity reveals character. I would love to think that we would see the best in people when difficulty comes our way. Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Okay, reps. Time to show up.

Spice it up

The South was devastated after the Civil War. Soldiers returning from the war often found little left. Families that fled from the conflict discovered homes, farms, and other properties burned, destroyed, and sometimes confiscated. Once a promising banker, Edmund McIlhenny came  to Avery Island in Louisiana where his in-laws had once owned a prosperous sugar plantation and salt works. Just about all that was left was the family garden.

Union troops had occupied the land late in the war. While there, they had discarded some hot Mexican peppers that had re-seeded themselves in the kitchen garden. Given the responsibility of cultivating the garden to put food on the table, McIlhenny began experimenting with the rather bland diet available. His efforts produced spices and sauces that he added to the family fare. His greatest success was a pepper sauce that soon became a staple in the family diet.

Soon some of the neighbors began asking if he could make them some. Finding discarded women’s cologne bottles, McIlhenny began to market his Tabasco brand pepper sauce. A much-needed industry sprang up on Avery Island. By 1870, he had patent to produce his cork-top two-ounce bottles with the diamond logo labels similar to the ones you find in stores today.

Today, more than 50 million bottles of Tabasco sauce are sold around the world. Most restaurants place a bottle on their tables. I have a friend who carries a bottle with him in his suit pocket wherever he goes.

A devastated farm … throw-away seeds … a weed-choked garden … discarded bottles … an economy in ruins … an out-of-work banker … a perfect recipe for success, right?

Adversity does strange things to people. It can crush the human spirit or it can unleash it. It can overwhelm a person with despair or enliven one with possibilities.

  • After his many struggles with the light bulb, Thomas Edison was quoted as saying, “I have not failed; I have just found 10,000 ways it won’t work.”
  • Zig Ziglar used this line often: “It isn’t your aptitude, but your attitude, that determines your altitude.”

Sometimes in the very shambles of our circumstances we find the means to recover, to rebuild, to refocus, to re-dream. Have you looked in your garden lately?