The year was 1949. The location was Edwards Air Force Base in southern California. Captain Edward Murphy was leading an experiment that would test the effects of G-force on the human body. He prepared a high-powered rocket-sled to propel its rider faster than man had ever traveled—621 miles per hour. That was the easy part. Stopping would be the tricky part.
The sled, with Major John Paul Stapp aboard, would be stopped in 1.4 seconds. That’s the equivalent of hitting a reinforced brick wall at breakneck speed. To monitor the effects of this deceleration, Stapp wore a body harness containing sixteen sensors that would track his near-death experiment. Carefully, Stapp was belted into the rocket harness, and the rocket-sled launched.
In fewer than five seconds the new land speed record was achieved. And then…WHAM! Everything stopped on a dime, causing Stapp’s 160lb. body to simulate three tons of weight. His ears met in front of his face. Blood leaked out of his nose and eyes. Quickly the rescue team retrieved his bruised and weak body from the sled. Stapp’s first words were, “Sensors…what do the sensors read?” To everyone’s shock, they read “zero.” All 16 sensors had failed to register.
Immediately, Captain Murphy was summoned to explain the colossal failure. One look and he recognized the problem. Each of the sensors had been put in backwards. He was livid. Turning to his installers, the irate Murphy yelled, “If there are two are more ways to do something and one of those ways results in catastrophe, then someone will do it.” And thus, Murphy’s Law was originated. Today, that “law” has become: “If anything can go wrong, it will."*
Today, Murphy’s Law has other variations:
"Only a mediocre preacher is always at his best."
"Wearing a costly silk tie at a baby dedication is sure to upset the baby’s stomach."
"A dropped piece of bread will always land butter side down.”
"The line next to you will move more quickly than the one you're in.”
"If you lose a sock, it's always from a complete pair.”
"Smile. Tomorrow will be worse.”
“You can’t win.”
Sometimes, life is just hard. It seems like, “it it can go wrong, it will.” We just can’t seem to win. When it rains, it pours. So…how do we remain faithful when we’re down and discouraged? Let me give you four practical ways to do that:
1. Recognize God’s Presence. David reminded us that God will walk with us, even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). In both the Old and New Testaments, we are reminded that “God will never leave us or forsake us” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). God is there, and He cares. Keep believing that…even when life is hard.
2. Focus on Other’s Problems. Let’s be honest…it’s so easy to feel sorry for ourselves, and turn inward. We tend to think that we’re the only one who is suffering some type of pain or injustice. But focusing on others will quickly remind us that we’re not alone in adversity. When we serve others, we tend to feel less stressed about our own situations. And sometimes it’s just comforting to know “that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood around the world” (1 Peter 5:9).
3. Connect with God’s People. As Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” God uses us to encourage one another. When I’m down, you can encourage me…and when you’re down, I can encourage you. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
4. Trust God’s Purposes. As Joseph reminded us that “what others meant for evil, God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Or as the New Testament version of that verse says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). As has been often said, “when you can’t trace God’s hand, trust His heart.” Know that His purposes will never fail. Keep trusting. Don’t ever forget that whatever it is you’re going through will pass. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11).
I don’t really think that Murphy’s Law is true. But to be honest, it feels that way sometimes. But the one thing that I know is true is that God is faithful…even when life is hard and is not going our way. God is still on His throne. And He still loves me. And He has a plan for me. Be encouraged by the truths of God’s Word…and be an encourager today to someone who needs lifting up.
*Note: There are slightly different versions of this story and the origination of Murphy’s Law.