Finding Strength in Difficult Times

President Gerald R. Ford

For those of you who are new to Life Compass, I write on Spirituality, Faith and Ethics on Sundays.  Here’s why.

Last week, I took one of my sons on a visit to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, which is located in our community of Grand Rapids, MI.

We’ve been there many times – mostly on the president’s birthday, when admission is free.

One year, for his 90th birthday, we even got to hear the president speak.  This time, we went on Mrs. Ford’s birthday, and yes, there was free admission…and free birthday cake.

Despite my frequent visits, I noticed something on this occasion that I hadn’t recalled seeing before.  At least two of the exhibits referenced something that was a source of strength and courage for President Ford during the most difficult moments of his life and presidency.

What was it that he turned to when faced with difficult challenges and decisions?  What was it that made such a difference in Ford’s life? 

It was a passage of scripture that his mother taught him when he was a young child:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. — Proverbs 3:5-6

A couple of thoughts came to my mind, after reading this with my son.

  1. Not everything we share with our children, or with others, sticks with them.  But some things do, and can have a lasting impact.
  2. Everyone, even a president, needs the guidance, wisdom, direction, and hope that comes from God.
  3. Our human understanding is limited, and there are times when we can’t have all the information we need to know about a particular subject in order to make the right, or best, decision.
  4. There are times when we can’t see very far ahead of us, and we can’t know how things will turn out after we make a decision.  We simply need to go with faith that we have, and trust that more wisdom, knowledge and understanding will be revealed as we move farther down the path.

Have you ever been in a situation when you had absolutely no control over the outcome, and all you could do was trust in the Lord, or others, to see you through?

One of the hardest situations that my wife and I have faced happened 10 years ago.  Our oldest son, who was 3-1/2 at the time, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  We had absolutely no control over this situation.  There was nothing we could do to solve it.  All we could do was trust the Lord.

Through a lot of prayers and tears, we found great peace – peace that we couldn’t really explain – by putting our dependence totally on God.  We determined that we could trust him to see us through, whatever the results.

Gratefully, after two surgeries, 5 weeks of hospitalization, and months of therapy, our results turned out great and our son was totally healed.  But we’ve met others whose situations didn’t turn out so rosy.  Even then, they trusted the Lord to carry them through.  We were inspired by their faith, and the real difference it made in their lives.

Looking back, I’ve realized that if I’m honest with myself, I really have little real control over any aspect of my life.

Whether it’s my family, career, finances, health, plans, dreams or goals, I can only control my own actions.  I can’t control anyone else’s actions.  And I can’t control the results.  For that, I need to trust the Lord.

I’ve noticed that when I do try to control the actions of others or the results I want, bad things happen!  I get stressed-out, I worry, and my life gets out of balance.

What about you?  When it’s all said and done, where do you find strength in difficult times?  Where do you place your trust?

You might also like:


  1. lovely post. I think in this day and age, we are tempted or led to believe that we can control outcomes, if we simply work smart enough, try hard enough, know the right people, or buy the right products. I was surprised to read that this mindset reflects a bit of arrogance – and may create a level of hopelessness if we keep trying to control our own outcomes without success. If we are honest, we will acknowledge that we don’t control everything – and that recognition actually permits us to release the weight of responsibility and stress we put on ourselves. What a relief! thanks for the post.

Speak Your Mind