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The Importance of Incentive in the Face of Challenges (3.12.20)

Published 03/12/2020

We all need incentive.  If we don’t have it, everything grinds to a halt in our lives.  If we have it, it is surprising what we can accomplish.

Dr. Charles Simonton wrote a book called GETTING WELL AGAIN that shows how incentive plays a big role in fighting disease.  Simonton, a radiological oncologist in Dallas, TX, worked with cancer patients who have exhausted medical treatment for their disease.  Simonton worked on their mental attitude.

Mental attitude makes a big difference.  Sometimes a seriously ill patient will say, “I can’t die for another two years; I have to get my last child through high school.”  It’s hard to explain, but sometimes a mental attitude like that will carry people through; they won’t die for at least two years—they live because they have incentive.

That happened with my mother, she had three forms of cancer, breast, lung, and brain cancer.  She made a promise to herself that she would see me graduate from high school.  I graduated from high school in June 1977 and she went on to her reward in November of the same year.

On the other hand, people without incentive often crumble away says Dr. Simonton.  This may happen, for example, when a woman’s husband died after she has lived with him for many years.  Her life was always tied up with his, and during the last months of his life she cared for him every day, all day long.  When he dies, she feels she doesn’t have any reason to live anymore.  Not long after his funeral she becomes sick and soon follows him in death.

We need incentive to keep going; we need something to look forward to, especially when life becomes very, very hard.  When we don’t have anything to look forward to, when incentive is gone, our lives become terribly sad and dismal.

That’s why I believe faith in Lord Jesus makes all the difference.  And one of the reasons it makes so much difference is that when you believe in Him, you get to know what happened to Him.  You get a great feeling of confidence for yourself.  Why?  Because of all He went through too.  And He made it through in exactly the same way those who believe in Him can make it through nowadays.  He had incentive; He had something to look forward to.  Because of what He was looking forward to, He could suffer what He did.  And when those who believe in Him look forward to, He could suffer what He did.  And when those who believe in Him look forward to the same thing He looked forward to, they can endure a great deal themselves.

As we read of how He went through the horror of His experience because He saw something glorious at the end of the road, it greatly encourages us to endure through life’s experiences knowing that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

There are times, of course, when it is tempting to simply gripe or surrender to discouragement or give in to everyday pressures and “let George do it.”  But determination and patience are part of any formula for success.  In the face of frustration, keep these truths in mind:

ONE IDEA can launch a revolution of the spirit.

PERSEVERANCE is the real fuel of accomplishment.

THE INDIVIDUAL is the greatest force on earth.

--Lech Walesa, a simple Polish worker, became the force behind the Solidarity movement and won the Nobel Peace Prize.

--Rachel Carson was introduced to nature through woodland walks with her mother and gave birth to the environmental movement with her book, “The Silent Spring.”

--Dr. Jonas Salk engaged in dogged but routine research day in and day out before developing the vaccine that spelled the end of polio.

--Rosa Parks refused to move to the rear of the bus and sparked a civil rights revolution.

These and all individuals who make a difference prove the truth of an observation made by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Protestant pastor who defied the Nazis: “Acton springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”  You don’t have to move mountains to make a difference.  But when you accept responsibility to improve life in your own family, congregation, community, office, factory, or school, you change the world by that much.

It has been well said that about 99% of all success the people of this world have enjoyed is due to persistence or perseverance.  Genius has been described as 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration!  Why grieve because all your dreams have not come true?  The good news is neither have all your nightmares!  Among mankind, there seems to be a general unwillingness to heed warning of even cataclysmic events.

Such was the case several years ago with hurricane Camille, which struck the Mississippi and Louisiana coastline in 1969 and killed more than three hundred—nearly all of whom ignored frequent warnings of the oncoming disaster.  And such was also the case with the Mount St. Helens volcanic explosion on Sunday, May 18, 1980.

For nearly two months—from March 20 through May 17—Mount St. Helens in Washington State bellowed steam, smoke and ash and shook with dozens of tremors and earthquakes.  It sent out small rivers of ash, which soon froze on the sides of the mountain.  Small avalanches cascaded down its slopes.  Within three weeks, a 1,200-by 1,700-foot crater opened its gaping mouth at the top of the peak, and the north side of the mountain (where the blast was later to occur) began bulging outward at a rate of four to six feet a day.

Yet in spite of all the obvious signs of the buildup of internal pressure, hundreds flocked to the mountain to do sight-seeing, to fish in its lakes, and to camp.  They tore down or drove around the roadblocks intended to keep them out.  They ignored the advice of the experts.

In fact, one resident—84 year-old Harry Truman (not the former President), owner of the Mount St. Helens Lodge—refused every attempt to evacuate him from his beloved home at the north base of the mountain.  “There’s nothing that mountain could do to scare me off,” said Truman, who had been living on the mountain for fifty-four years.  “No one knows more about this mountain than Harry,” he added, “and it don’t dare blow up on him.”

Today, Harry and his famous lodge lie under dozens of feet of volcanic mud.  He, along with nearly a hundred others, appear to have gambled their lives with the mountain—and lost!

We are all paying attention to the Coronavirus.  We should not ignore its existence neither should we panic over its existence.  Let’s follow the guidelines, wash our hands, if we’re sick stay home, cover your cough or sneeze, and try not to touch our face.  These are good guidelines for everyday living virus or not. 

Why is it that we humans are so gullible and so unwilling to heed obvious warnings that could spell our doom?  But if this be true of a volcano, isn’t it even more true regarding the future of this whole earth?  I believe that with God’s help we will come out of this as well as all the other challenges that we face.