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George Foreman's search for God showed him that faith and hope can help you through any challenge.
When I shook hands with someone who I knew was wearing borrowed clothes, I didn't let on I knew, but just said, "That's a real nice outfit." There was such gratitude from those people at the way my congregation had opened their hearts to them. It was a day I'll never forget.
2. It's Not Our Circumstances That Determine Our Happiness
It's our attitude toward those circumstances. The Bible says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God." Those words don't promise that only good things will happen to you if you love God. But they do promise that if you love him, whatever happens can turn out to be in your favor.
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God can turn any loss into a gain. Want proof? If you followed my boxing career you might recall that I was not always very well-disposed toward Muhammad Ali. And vice versa. We weren't just opponents in the ring; we were enemies. After he defeated me in that fight in Africa, I spent months thinking of nothing else but how I'd pay him back.
But believe it or not, that defeat turned out to be a big blessing. I was on the comeback trail, fighting my way back to a rematch with Muhammad, when I lost to a journeyman fighter named Jimmy Young in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In the dressing room after the fight, I was taken out of my body. I met God, and realized the life I'd been living without him had been empty.
Soon after that experience, I called Muhammad and let him know what had happened to me. I told him I didn't hate him anymore. In fact, I told him I loved him! He responded to my kindness, and a true friendship developed between us.
In my trophy case at home, I have a photo on display. The picture shows me right after I've been knocked down in that fight in Africa, with Muhammad standing over me. That photo is the first thing you see when you come into the room. Why? Because it was that exact moment that got me started on my search for God. The worst single thing that ever happened to me turned out to be the best.
It doesn't matter what your own worst moment is. Storms of all kinds rage through our lives, and sometimes they can take everything from us. But if you have faith, your own worst moment can become your best.
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3. You Never Know What God Will Bring You
Some years ago, a business friend gave me some advice. "George," he said, "you ought to have your own product." He sent me a small, funny-looking grill built with a slant to it and told me the people who made it were looking for a personality to market it. I put it aside. After all, who would want a slanted grill? That's when my wife Mary stepped in. "That grill works great," she said. "The grease rolls right off and the food tastes delicious." She fixed me a burger to prove it. I took a bite. Mary was right. It was good.
"Okay, I'll tell them I'm interested," I said. "Maybe they'll send us a bunch of free grills and we can give them away." Well, I got those free grills. But I have to tell you, they weren't the best part of the deal. I never would have dreamed what God was sending my way the day that funny-looking grill arrived on my doorstep. And if I hadn't listened to Mary, I still wouldn't!
4. No Storm Lasts Forever
It's funny how often people use storm images when they talk about adversity. Jesus calmed a storm that terrified his disciples. The fact is bad times really are like storms. They flood in and knock you down, and it can seem like they're going to sweep away everything good in your life. But eventually the waters subside. Sometimes—as in the case of Katrina—they can take a long, long time to go all the way down. But they always do.
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Not too long after I gave my life to the Lord, my first marriage broke up. My then-wife just couldn't cope with this new George she suddenly found herself living with. The pain of her leaving me was so great. And there I was, the pastor of a church. I was supposed to be giving people advice on how to live their lives, when I could barely get my tears to stop long enough to deliver any sermon at all.