The city of Newark, NJ has the distinction of being one of America’s oldest cities, behind Boston and New York.
During the early 19th Century, it thrived as an industrial giant; but, after WWII, it suffered a fate similar to other urban cities that saw a loss of manufacturing jobs. As residents left to find work in other places, urban decay and societal decline set in, culminating in the riots of the 1960s.
What was once a thriving city was reduced to an urban wasteland and a dilapidated relic of a bygone era.
Things slowly began to turn around, however, as city planners and officials sought to adapt to the changing times by refocusing and rebuilding the city.
Today, Newark boasts a reduced crime rate, a vibrant downtown area with hotels and entertainment venues, an arena home for an NHL hockey team, a major league baseball stadium and gleaming office skyscrapers.
Unlike some other cities across the country that have failed to emerge from a ghost-like existence, Newark has demonstrated that an environment once deemed to be dead can be reanimated and experience new life.
What is true for turnaround cities is true for people as well.
I recently heard the inspiring story of a young man who wandered into a church several years ago. He had been in and out of jail and was trying to turn his life around. No one would hire him because of his criminal record but he was determined not to end up a statistic.
The pastor encouraged him to give his life to God and to trust Him for his future, which the young man did.
“What skills do you have?” the pastor inquired.
“I’ll do anything,” he responded.
“Would you be willing to try your hand at a property cleaning business?”
The young man agreed to do it, and the pastor helped him to produce dozens of flyers advertising his services and placed them all over the town.
Within weeks, he had his first cleaning job, and soon other calls began to come in. The young man partnered with a friend in a similar situation, and they soon saw their business grow. They were now able to comfortably take care of their families and were making more money than when they were hustling in the streets.
There is always hope for a turnaround from the failures and setbacks in our lives.
Opportunities are always lurking behind the obstacles that confront us. We must be prepared to make adjustments and adapt to new realities or we may find ourselves mired in stagnation.
To His ancient people, who were suffering in captivity and oppression, God gave a powerful promise: “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19).
Those who trust in God today can count on Him to be of similar assistance in their lives.
He can show you a way through the wilderness, and He can sustain you in the desert.
What challenges are you facing that appear to be hopeless? What deteriorating situation are you desperate to break free from?
Invite God into your life and trust Him for direction. Examine all the options around you and prayerfully pursue the opportunities that emerge.
Remember that any difficulty that is lasting does not have to be everlasting. There is always hope for a turnaround.
Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.