Have you noticed how weird the world seems to be getting? Do you read beyond the headlines and see the goofy stuff that is happening in the world around us?
In the possible event that you missed it, I want to show you how strange things are in this world.
There is, or was, this guy named Jason Padgett. According to the New Your Post, he had dropped out of Tacoma Community College and was a self-described “goof” with zero interest in academics, let alone math. The only time he dealt in numbers was to track the hours until his shift ended at his father’s furniture store, tally up his bar tab and count biceps curls at the gym. He wore a mullet, a leather vest opened to a bare chest and skintight pants. He was like a high-school student stuck in the 1980s – even though it was 2002.
But, his life completely changed on Friday the 13th of 2002. He was at a karaoke bar carousing; I’m not sure totally what carousing is but my Baptist parents told me it was bad. I digress. So he’s carousing and ends up with two obviously mean guys taking him outside and beating him up. Somewhere in the beating up part he gets kicked in the head and suffers a concussion. That normally is not a good thing. But, in Mr. Padgett’s case, when he awoke he was a mathematical genius. Yeah, I know, that’s really unusual. On the few occasions when I was knocked unconscious I awoke with less mental capacity, not more. How about you?
Listen to what the Post says: “He, that would be the a fore mentioned Padgett, is one of a few people in the world who can draw approximations of fractals, the repeating geometric patterns that are building blocks of everything in the known universe, by hand.” No kidding, by hand? I’m not even sure what approximations of fractals look like but this former karaoke bar guy can now draw them by hand.
But, there’s more! The Post goes on to say, “Tree leaves outside his window are evidence of Pythagoras’ theorem. The arc that light makes when it bounces off his car proves the power of pi.” Oh my. The last time I was banged on the head I saw light alright, but it didn’t prove anything but painful. The light bouncing off his car proves the power of pi? This from a man who had no training, or interest in math, before getting clobbered by a couple of thugs.
So what’s to be learned? No, it is not that there is a good reason to hang around karaoke bars. It’s a cheap shot I know, but this story says to me that not all hard knocks are detrimental. I told you it was a cheap shot. But think about it. Some of the hardest experiences in our lives have proven to actually be beneficial to us. It maybe didn’t make us geniuses like Mr. Padgett, but taught us lessons of value.
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to hard knocks; he wrote often about his pain. In 2 Corinthians 1:8 he writes, “For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in the province of Asia: were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength —so that we even despaired of life.” Anything that causes us to despair of life is a hard knock. In 2 Corinthians, chapter four, Paul writes that he was pressured, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. A good description of hard knocks, of being beat up by life. But, Paul is able to say that through all this, he was not crushed, not in despair; not abandoned by God, and not destroyed (2 Co 4:8-9). Further, he was able to say, “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:29). A strong confidence that hard knocks need not be detrimental; that God desires to use them for our growth.
I don’t know today what you’ve been hit with; what you are suffering from. And I don’t mean to demean or trivialize any problem or crisis you are facing. But, I do want you to know that God knows what you are going through and wants to turn your sorrow into joy and your weakness into strength. Take heart, you are not alone nor have you been abandoned.
Oh, and another unoriginal thought to leave you with: be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle! See you in church.