These are challenging days in America. Politicians and celebrities are feuding over the Trump Administration’s travel ban, with tensions continuing to escalate. A US commando was killed and three others were wounded while fighting al Qaeda in Yemen. Rockets sold to NASA may blow due to faulty metal components. The FDA has confirmed elevated levels of “toxic substances” in teething products.
When you read the news and wonder how to respond, take a lesson from Albert Einstein.
Einstein had three great character traits, according to biographer David Bodanis. Surprisingly, Bodanis does not list his genius among them. Einstein languished for years in a patent office, unable to find employment as a high school teacher. Scientific papers that would later revolutionize the world of physics lay unread in the top drawer of his desk.
But he had persistence. As he said of himself, “I might not be more skilled than other scientists, but I have the persistence of a mule.” He also had a thick skin and, paradoxically, compassion for others. Bodanis says that these traits led to the legacy we still celebrate today.
They are just as needed today as ever.
Recall the story of Esther. The book was controversial among some Jewish audiences since it never mentions the name of God. However, it reveals the hand of God on every page.
Haman, second to the throne in Persia, persuaded the king to decree a holocaust that would murder the entire Jewish population in the country. He then ordered the construction of a gallows upon which to hang Esther’s beloved uncle, Mordecai.
But as the saying goes, it is always darkest before the dawn. (While this is not true meteorologically, it is so often true psychologically.) The king was reminded of Mordecai’s earlier service to the throne and ordered Haman to honor his arch enemy. Esther then exposed Haman’s plot against her uncle and the king had his wicked adviser hanged on the very gallows he constructed. The king then gave the Jews permission to defend themselves, leading to a great victory for the Esther and her people.
When you cannot see the name of God, trust the hand of God.
The boy Samuel said to the Voice that spoke to him, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10, NIV). Here we learn three facts: (1) God speaks and is ready to reveal truth to all who are ready to receive it; (2) the best way to hear his voice is to become his servant; (3) when we choose to hear, he will always choose to speak. Perhaps not in the timing or way we wish, but in whatever timing and way is best.
So learn a lesson from Albert Einstein: Choose to persist in faith, knowing that “[God’s] steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). Develop the thick skin that values the affirmation of God over the judgment of people. Decide to speak God’s word in love, no matter what people say to you.
Circumstances do not change the character of God, but they do reveal the character of people.