Ups And Downs

by Pastor Jack Hyles

(Chapter 14 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Strength And Beauty)


Life is full of its ups and downs they say, and they say aright, for no one is always on the same plane. However, one can work on his ups and downs until they can become hills and valleys rather than peaks and gorges. There are some simple things that have helped me to make my ups and downs shorter trips.

1. Realize that change does not bring happiness, just temporary enjoyment. One should not build his happiness around the unusual times but rather around the usual times. The usual can register positive and then the unusual can be even more delightful, and the trip from the unusual to the usual will not be a sad and melancholy one. Far too many people depend on the spectacular to bring them happiness. The spectacular was not made for happiness; it was made for enjoyment. Happiness is a state of mind. Enjoyment is something caused by external stimuli. If one is wise enough to recognize the purpose for special occasions and unusual circumstances, he then will have enriched his life greatly. If, however, one thinks that happiness is brought by the peaks, he is going to spend some miserable days in the valleys. If the valley can be happiness, the peak can be bonus! If the peak is happiness, the valley will be dreary.

2. Enjoy the normal days most. Wise is the person who looks forward to the tranquil time and not to the spectacular time. The well-adjusted person is just as happy when the special time ends and the normal begins as he is when the normal ends and the special time begins. In other words, one should not put too much stress on diversion. One who enjoys his work does not need diversion for pleasure or enjoyment, but simply as an aid to becoming a complete, well-rounded person.

The transition from the unusual to the usual and from the usual to the unusual should not be stepping from drudgery to fun, but rather from one form of fun to another form of fun. This makes the step down as pleasant as the step up. It makes Monday as good a day as Saturday.

3. Remember that someone would love to take a vacation doing what you do every day. Do you work downtown in Chicago, in the Loop, in the big city, in New York's Manhattan? Do you know that your drudgery would be a vacation to millions of people? Do you live the simple life without life's conveniences? Do you know that rich men take their vacations camping out and doing what you are doing? Do you go to one of the great churches in America? Do you realize that there are thousands of people who plan their vacations around a visit to your church? It is said that on the weekend the country goes to the town and the town goes to the country. Now, why couldn't the man in Manhattan enjoy Manhattan and the man without the so-called luxuries of life enjoy his life as much as the city dweller who camps out on his vacation? Ah, much of life's happiness is wrapped up in these truths.

4. Be slow to acquire everything. I believe this is one of the reasons for the rise of the hippie movement in our generation. Many of them were raised by sincere, yet overly protective and overly generous parents who gave them everything too soon. If one can stretch out his acquisition of possessions over an entire life, he will be much happier. Many of our suicides are committed by those who have acquired everything. In other words, they have lived life too fast. They have lived all of life in a span of time that was faster than it was intended for it to be lived. Now their lives are over, but they have some years to spend. They turn to whatever they haven't had yet. It may be dope, it may be liquor, it may be the hippie life, or it may be suicide. Parents, be slow to let your children acquire everything.

5. Do the hum-drum best. The best preacher is not the one that preaches the best convention sermon, but the one who preaches the best sermon Sunday by Sunday. Someone has asked, "Who do you think is the best preacher in the world?" The answer is, "I do not know." There would be no way to find out unless I could hear the man preach in his own pulpit for a year. The best carpenter is not the one who makes the prettiest sound as the hammer hits the nails or has the most graceful stroke with the saw. The best carpenter is the one who builds the best house. The best preacher is not the one who is the best orator. He is the one who builds the best Christian.

In plain old Army language, we should always be ready for inspection. Make the hum-drum day just as important as the exciting one. Play the practice game with just as much fervor as the Bowl game. Plan the first day home from vacation with the same anticipation with which you plan the first day of vacation. 'Tis not the one who has the most fun on the mountain top that finds happiness; 'tis the one who has the most peace in the valley.

6. Preserve happy times and relive them. Have a camera; keep a diary; or have a scrapbook. Keep files; don't throw away letters from ones you love. A happy time need not end when it is over. It can live on and on if we learn to relive it and if we preserve it to be opened and re-enjoyed in future days.

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