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Forged by Fire: How Pain Leads to Great Gain (Part One)

Eads Bridge is the world's first steel-truss bridge, and an engineering marvel. After the Civil War the nation’s railways were quickly expanding and trains needed a way to cross the Mississippi River. The challenge was developing metal strong enough to support heavy trains traveling across such a large divide as the Mississippi River. In the 1860’s Andrew Carnegie, an American industrialist and entrepreneur led the way in strengthening American steel to meet the need.

Steel is forged from iron ore. Iron ore is mined from the earth, then heated to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit to remove impurities that weaken the metal. As the metal is heated it is stretched and pounded. Extreme heat, stretching, and pounding transforms weak metal into strong steel.

History’s greatest leaders were forged in the heat, stretching, and pounding of tough times. Abraham Lincoln grew up dirt poor. His mother died early in life. Lincoln lost his sister while she was giving birth to her child. Lincoln lost jobs, went bankrupt, was defeated in political races, failed at business, and in 1836 he had a nervous breakdown.

After many setbacks, failures, and much pain, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States in 1860. Lincoln is often considered the greatest American President.

Few people have impacted culture and entertainment like Walt Disney. Disney quit school in the eighth grade. His family suffered several economic setbacks and business failures.

Walt Disney helped the family financially by working small jobs before school. His schoolwork suffered due to his “business” ventures. At age 16 Disney tried unsuccessfully to join the Army. Instead, he joined the American Ambulance Corps, but fell ill for weeks with the flu during the Great Flu epidemic.

Walt Disney’s first animation company, Laugh-O-Gram Films went bankrupt in 1923 and Disney packed up with $40 in his pocket and headed to Hollywood. Unable to find work, Walt Disney founded Disney Bros. Studios with Roy, his brother. Walt and Roy had some successes, but many failures. The developed Mickey Mouse but failed to find a company willing to distribute the films. They never quit. Mickey Mouse soon became the world’s most popular cartoon character. Disney went on to create a full-length feature cartoon film based on the fairy tale, Snow White. After three years of production, Disney ran out of money. He borrowed the cash to finish the film, which everyone predicted would be a major failure. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1938 and earned $8 million ($134 million in today’s dollars). Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs won an Oscar and launched Disney into the worldwide company that it is today.

Pain, adversity, suffering, and crises breed growth. They define great leaders who do great things. Without pain, great leaders are not forged. Greatness depends on problems and problems breed greatness. We are made stronger when the heat is the hottest on our lives.

Pain and suffering forge us into the person God desires us to be. He hammers out specific results into our lives that simply will not occur if He does not turn up the heat. A quick survey of the Bible’s New Testament reveals several qualities that pain, trials, and turning up the heat provide.

1. Perseverance (never quit; never give up).

2. Patience (to steadfastly wait, knowing that you will succeed in God’s time)

3. Character (doing what’s right all the time)

4. Experience (gaining knowledge and understanding through practice)

5. Hope (enduring optimism/anticipation of that which is good even in hard times)

6. Resilience (toughness and strength with great flexibility)

7. Joy (calm delight in all situations, good or bad)

8. Wisdom (intelligence combined with skill to discern and solve various problems or challenges)

Throughout our entire lives, we will never have the need to not grow in these areas, so we can expect the forging process to continue until we leave this world.

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