The evening of December 9, 1914, an explosion set fire to a large scientific laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey. At least ten buildings were destroyed, along with years of research and development. Property loss alone was estimated at $7 million ($183 million in today’s dollars). “There go all our mistakes,” the laboratory’s founder and CEO said as he watched the blaze.

“Although I am 67 years old,” he told a New York Times reporter who was at the scene, “I’ll start all over again tomorrow.” The next morning’s newspaper included a notice that all 7,000 of the lab’s employees were to report for work immediately. A disaster of lesser proportions would have demoralized just about anyone else, but years of trial and error had conditioned Thomas Edison to see disasters as opportunities.

Most of the reversals you and I face aren’t nearly as catastrophic, but they have two things in common with Edison’s inferno. First, regardless of their nature, they present us with a choice: How will we react to our change of circumstances? Second, depending on how we react, such changes inevitably change us for better or for worse.

On the first score, positive thinking and determination are powerful forces for making the most of difficult circumstances, but when we also enlist the help of our all-powerful God, our chances for a positive outcome increase exponentially. “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”1

On the second score, if we ask God to use every challenge that we face to help make us better people, He will. In fact, “Make me better” is one of His favorite prayers to answer.

  1. 2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT