I have been reading in the letters of Paul to the churches. While they are rich in theology, they are also a wealth of information for practical daily living. How to treat people whether rich or poor, how to deal with those who are bullies, how to act as Christians in a secular world, how to interact with your government, how to love, how to pray and how to serve are all a part of those letters. It is a real guide to the Christian on how to live in the 21st Century.
The verse that always sticks out to me from there is one that is probably a familiar verse to you. Perhaps it is even your life verse or at least one you have memorized. It is from the letter to the Philippians, chapter 4 and verse 13:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV)
A short while back, I was introduced to the book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. Vance, who works today in a leading venture capital firm, has an undergraduate degree from Ohio State and a law degree from Yale Law School. His book is a remarkable testimony of how a poor young kid who grew up in Middletown, OH and Jackson, KY, barely graduated high school, enlisted in the Marines, then attended college. The book is a testament to the opportunities given to this young man in spite of his background.
The back cover in part reads, “In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck.” I totally identify with that statement. I was born in Martins Ferry, OH, and told even at a young age that I probably would be no more than a factory worker, yet here I sit at my laptop with a high school diploma from Washington High School in Massillon, two undergraduate degrees, a master degree, and a Ph.D. in Psychology. I know success can happen. It has happened to me.
I do not know the entire story of the book yet. I have only begun reading the book but I am impressed already with every word I have already read. It is inspirational to say the least. But so are the words from the Apostle Paul. No matter what my circumstances are, I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. ALL things, including rise up and be successful in spite of my background or my roots.
I hope this author gives God credit where credit is due. He certainly is my primary mover and shaker and I give Him all credit in whatever success I have found in my personal and professional life.
I know that there are many out there struggling today. I know because I have heard your stories, and I can empathize with you. So let me encourage you today. You might think you have to drown your sorrows or lift yourself up out of despair with drugs or alcohol. There is a better way. There are many great pastors in this community who want to help you.
When you think there is no way out of that broken cistern you are in today, look to Him who can help. There is no way out but up, especially when you put your faith and trust in Christ. Why not seek Him today?
Chuck Wilson, Ph.D. Psychology
Senior Pastor of Carrollton Bible Chapel