The Best Thing


Prison! It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

Cancer! It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

I read the first statement in a Sports Illustrated article on a former NHL player who ended up in prison despite a successful professional hockey career. Cash, fame, and all the toys that go with them couldn’t feed the hunger inside his soul. Prison changed the direction of his life in a marvelous way.

The second statement I heard as I listened to an audio version of I’m Proud of You by Tim Madigan. Tim writes about how he and his younger brother shared a close childhood but a distant adulthood. That happens a lot in our world—best friends as kids, never in touch as adults.

One word swallowed up the distance and brought the two brothers and the rest of the family together. Cancer.

Brother Steve, on the verge of losing his business and destroying his marriage, heard the diagnosis and it changed the direction of his entire life. With a limited future, “two years at the most,” Steve said, “this is the best thing that ever happened to me.” The bad news sent him in the direction of the good news found in the welcoming arms of the ONE. He preferred two years with cancer and a new perspective to a long life walking the same old path of depression, disillusionment, heartache, and grief.

Amazing how bad news can bring positive results. In Steve’s case, he rekindled love’s flame for his wife and family. Tim and Steve returned to and deepened their boyhood friendship. As Steve’s life neared the end of its journey in this world, his home reverberated with the sounds typically associated with a party, not a death watch.

Bad news is never the story’s end. Never!

To say it is would be the same as taking a tumble and remaining on the ground. You fell. You can get up.

I like what John Maxwell’s friend said to him. “John, I’m never down.”

“But everyone falls down at some point in life.”

“Yes, that’s true, but I’m either up or on my way up.”

Cancer, prison, car accident, recession, job loss, sickness, divorce, death, murder. I’m sure you can come up with plenty of other crushing words and circumstances. As Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble,” and that’s one promise we’ve all experienced.

Jesus didn’t stop with troubling news. “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).

In 2006, my life took a turn I never expected. I served as a pastor of a small town church and was asked to “take my talents” elsewhere. Hats off to LeBron James for that little phrase, by the way.

To be asked to leave crushed me. Now I look at losing my job as “the best thing that ever happened to me.” That opened the door to a writing career and to finally writing the book I always planned some day to write.

Warning! A proud-father-with-tons-of-photos moment ahead. I’m currently a semi-finalist in a major writer’s contest. Wah-hoo!

But here’s the kicker. Win, lose, or draw, nothing satisfies quite like being in relationship with the ONE. And tough, troubling times have a way of putting people on the right track, helping them with the JOURNEY HOME.

Question: When has a bad thing turned into a good thing for you?

About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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2 Responses to The Best Thing

  1. When I went on internship I asked to go east of the Mississippi because of a summer job in Florida. Instead they sent me to California, there I met my future wife, had 2 great daughters, and continued the discovery God’s amazing gift to turn bad into good.

  2. tnealtarver says:

    The Lord’s detours are a whole lot better than ours.

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