by Tim Howard
When I was a small boy I hated naps with a passion. My mother’s love for naps, however, greatly exceeded my hatred and I was doomed to take one each and every day. I think her love for them was rooted in the fact that she got a break from me. If the truth were known, it may have been her favorite time of the day! I recall one afternoon waking up from one of those naps and within a few minutes, my mom told me to go back to bed. Curious as to why, I asked for a reason (in a demanding tone) and she said, “Because you got up on the wrong side of the bed.” That didn’t make sense to me but I soon learned she was talking about my attitude.
A person’s attitude is connected to his or her focus and perception of life. In my specific case, I hated naps and a bad attitude manifested itself. One man calls it the ‘Squeeze’ principle. It’s when the pressures of life try to squeeze your hope, joy, and peace out of you. The pressures do not create the attitude - only reveal it!
In Acts 16:22 –25, Paul and Silas were having a challenging day. They were being squeezed! They had been preaching the Gospel in Philippi and the crowd was attacking them. They were ultimately beaten and thrown into prison. About midnight, “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” As I read this narrative, I asked myself: “Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?” They have been stripped, imprisoned, put in stocks, and now they’re singing. Not to mention they had done no crime.
I would have expected this verse to read that Paul and Silas were having a pity party and complaining at midnight or blaming God and others for their current dilemma. The truth, however, is that these two men simply focused on God and not their current situation. Their focus and perception created a positive attitude while others listened intently.
A positive attitude in the midst of dark times will influence people greatly. Don’t forget the greatest impact of your life will often come at the time of greatest pain. Maybe you’re being squeezed right now. How are you handling it? Are you reacting, blaming and criticizing? Or are you responding, focusing on the future and trusting God?
When life squeezes you – God wants to build your character!
To build character you don’t need to get up on the other side of the bed! You need to:
1. Have the right values.
One educator said: "Teaching kids to count is wonderful, but teaching them what counts is best."
2. Do the right thing.
People of character know there is no right way to do the wrong thing. If you start something wrong, you'll end wrong. You've got to do the right thing.
3. Be the right kind of person.
When you walk humbly, live a lifestyle of giving, do acts of kindness and consider others before yourself. You are the right kind of person.
4. Have the right attitude.
Someone said that your attitude will determine your altitude!
By the way… I have learned to love naps. I wish I could take one each and every day.