The following is reprinted from March 2010.

Life here on earth consists of good times, bad times and a certain amount of dull times and boredom in between. Something that’s never been understood or explained is why some people have more good times and good things than others.

It’s something over which we have very little control. Granted, many tragedies, mishaps, and misfortunes are the result of our own actions and are caused by the things we do wrong, or by things that we should do but fail to do. These things we do have control over, and when you get right down to it, we have no one to blame but ourselves. It brings to mind an old saying, “We reap what we sow.”

Many times, it is harder to explain. Two or more people can be hit with identical crises, and one will come out of it better than the others. Now that’s one thing that can be explained, and it can be explained by one word. At first glance, some would explain it as fate or good luck or bad luck; but none of those are the word I’m thinking of.

The word is something that can be found in all living, breathing and moving creatures. Some seem to have more of it than others. Some people develop and use it more than others. Those who use it in the wrong way often find themselves in deep trouble or living a lonely life. On the other hand, those who find in it a tool or a means of strength often use it to work something of a miracle, not only to survive a tragedy, but also to prolong their lives.

During my military career, the very best soldiers with whom I served exemplified this word, and today when I watch the news and see our brave men and women returning home from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan with their broken bodies and missing limbs yet trying their very best to get on with their lives, to adjust and to be as normal as possible, I see this word written all over them.

Many years ago, I knew of a man, a farmer in Granville County, who was seriously injured. He suffered a broken back while loading some heavy sheets of tobacco onto a truck. He was paralyzed from his waist down and was told by doctors that he would never again be able to walk and would forever be confined to a wheelchair.

You might know how some older men, many of them being retired farmers, like to spend most of their time sitting around a country store. For a while, this farmer, who broke his back, rolled in his wheelchair every day to a nearby country store and sat there for several hours, unable to do anything else.

It didn’t take him long to get tired of that routine, so one day he bought two pieces of rope from the store. He tied a length of rope around the bottom of each one of his feet and tied the other ends around each one of his wrists. He sat there hours on end in that wheelchair parked beside that country store, lifting up one arm which caused the rope to raise his foot about 12 inches. Then he would do the same thing with his other arm and foot.

For many weeks, he spent most of every day raising and lowering his feet and legs with those ropes tied to his feet and wrists. The other men sitting around the store scoffed at him behind his back, talking about how ridiculous he was. But finally, after many weeks of this self-therapy, he began to get some feeling in his legs. Then, one day after about a year, he didn’t show up at the store in his wheelchair. Instead, about 9 o’clock that morning, he came walking unassisted through the front door.

He walked slowly and was somewhat unsteady, but he walked just the same and on his own. The storekeeper later said that it was the only time he ever saw a group of old men crying, with tears rolling down their cheeks.

One of my very best friends, Luther Perkinson, a man of strong character and of many talents, including the ability to play musical instruments, personified this word of which I speak, and those close to him and who knew him well are better off today because we knew him.

Luther left this life for a better one in another place recently. By all accounts and medical standards, he should have departed right long ago, but because he was gifted with this word, he was blessed and able to spend a longer time with his family and friends.

He was beset with a serious, irreversible, and progressive medical condition of which doctors gave him no hope. Luther told his doctors to do all that they could for him, and when they had done all they could, let him know, and he would take it to a higher authority.

That’s exactly what he did, and it paid off. He remained active and played his music for a long time. Luther and that paralyzed farmer in Granville County were blessed with the word, which is “determination.” They refused to give up, even when all logic and odds were against them. There is another word that goes right along with determination, and that word is “faith.” A good formula for anyone to live by and to remember when hard, seemingly impossible circumstances beset us: determination + faith = miracle.