September 2021

There is a story about a writer, in his fifties, who had written a manuscript for a book and sent it to several publishers without success. He grew so discouraged that he threw the manuscript into the wastepaper basket. As his wife tried to salvage the manuscript, he told her sternly. “We’ve wasted enough time on it. I forbid you to remove it from the wastebasket!”

Well, you know how well that works. She decided the manuscript should be seen by at least one more publisher. When she arrived at that publisher’s office she pulled out the most unusual looking package that the publisher had ever received as a manuscript. Underneath a wrapping of brown paper was a wastepaper basket still holding the writer’s manuscript. This way, she reasoned, she was not technically going against her husband’s wishes. She did not retrieve the manuscript–the publisher did it for her. And when he read it, he loved it.

The writer in this story is Norman Vincent Peale; the manuscript was The Power of Positive Thinking. The book that Peale tossed in the trash can eventually sold 30 million copies.

It’s hard to imagine that the inventor of Positive Thinking Movement was so discouraged that he was ready to give up on the book that launched his career. This serves to remind us that even the most optimistic personalities can and do get discouraged. Life is a struggle and at one time or another we all want to throw in the towel. St. Paul once encouraged a some what beleaguered congregation with the words: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP.” (Galatians 6:9)

When our efforts don’t yield immediate returns, we may be tempted to call it quits. Paul reminds us not to look at the results, but to stay focused on the process of doing good. Some times the one who does the planting can not imagine the harvest because it is so far in the future. Our plantings are acts in hope. Like trees planted by the elderly. Still we have this assurance from God’s word that ultimately we will receive the harvest we deserve.


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