Pick A Handle
“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’” Psalm 31:14
Epictetus was a Stoic philosopher in ancient Greece known for his wisdom. Consistent with the philosophy of Stoicism, Epictetus taught principles about how to deal with the changing circumstances of life. The Stoics were big on reason, and advocated having a somewhat dispassionate demeanor when it came to dealing with life problems. Imagine a first century Vulcan, sort of a Mr. Spock in a robe.
Although there is much about Stoicism that I disagree with, I must confess that there is one teaching of Epictetus that I find intriguing, and helpful. He taught that everything in life has two handles. In other words, every situation or event or encounter we confront in life can be approached in one of two different ways. Look on it as being like a vessel having two handles. Think of each handle as being positive or negative. Good or bad. Beneficial or destructive. The key is which handle we grab. We do the choosing. We decide how we will deal with that issue of life. We pick the handle.
I am afraid that in the current situation we are in, most people are picking the wrong handle. They grab the handle of fear, apprehension, dread, or worry. Their hearts are failing them as a result of fear!
Now please understand me, I am not trying to condemn such people. I understand the pull to grab that handle. I have done it too often myself. Yet, it is still not the preferred handle to grasp. It is not the handle that will benefit us. There is a better one. That is the handle of faith.
The Scriptures are full of examples of godly men and women who faced extremely difficult challenges. Many of them faced situations which threatened to completely overwhelm, perhaps even cost them their lives. Yet, despite the confronting circumstance they chose to put their trust in God. They had to make a decision about how to respond to their situation. And in each case, they picked the right handle.
Think of some of the examples. Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice. David standing before the giant. The Three Hebrew Children in front of a blazing oven. Daniel praying in defiance of the king’s order. Esther approaching the throne. Mary being pregnant, but still a virgin. Peter facing the Sanhedrin. Paul and Silas in jail, singing. Can you think of others? There are many. In each case, there were two handles to grasp, two ways to deal with the situation. Each person could have given in to fear, peer pressure, discouragement, or the choice to give up. Instead, in each instance these all-too-human men and women of God made the choice to have faith, to trust God, to stand for righteousness, to act courageously. Their choice, the handle they picked, made all the difference.
Child of God, let me encourage you today. I understand if all that is happening right now is overwhelming. I understand if fear arises in your soul. Indeed, I know God understands. But we can choose to view what is going on from a different perspective. Each one of us can do this. Each of us has a choice. Instead of fear we can choose to look up, to look up to God. Instead of doubt we can choose to trust Him, no matter what. Instead of worry we can choose to seek His peace. Instead of discouragement we can choose to see His sovereign hand working in all things. Each one of us can choose to pick a different handle.
By Pastor Victor Morris
Pastor Morris serves as the the Advancing Native Missions staff Chaplain and founded a ministry called TRUTH BUILDERS. Victor and His wife Sue, have been longtime friends of International Women’s Ministries. For more information about Victor and His many ministry activities you may go here