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
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
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
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
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.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…"
"Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of
trials..." (1 Pet. 1:6).
4. We will have problems, however, when problems occur, we can defeat them.
THIS MORNING AND NEXT SUNDAY MORNING, WE WILL LOOK AT SOME
BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES ON HOW WE CAN TRIUMPH OVER LIFE'S PROBLEMS.
Someone once wrote, "All problems become smaller if you don't dodge them but
confront them. Touch a thistle timidly and it will prick you; grasp it boldly and its
spines crumble." We must never allow our problems to bring us down, instead, we
must bring down the problems.
I. FIRST, TO TRIUMPH OVER LIFE'S PROBLEMS, WE MUST DEVELOP A
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.
"We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces
perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Rom. 5:3, 4).
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
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):
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the
olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my
II. SECOND, TO TRIUMPH OVER LIFE'S PROBLEMS, WE MUST LIVE ONE DAY
AT A TIME AND NOT WORRY ABOUT YESTERDAY'S OR TOMORROW'S
1. Listen to what Jesus taught in (Mt. 6:34).
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each
day has enough trouble of its own."
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
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.
"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I
press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in
Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13, 14).
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.
Keith Smith, Minister
Elam Road Church of Christ