3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope (Rom. 5:3-4).
An eight-year-old boy nicknamed by his dad, ’Lyss, had a mission from his father—go to a prominent man in town and bargain with him for a horse he owned. ’Lyss faithfully complied.
’Lyss was good boy who honored his parents. He was a quiet boy, gentle and sensitive. His personality revealed no emotion. These traits were often misinterpreted to mean the boy was slow.
In one area he stood out—he handled horses exceptionally well. Because ’Lyss was so good with horses, his father had charged him to bring back a horse from a horse owner. Approaching the gentleman, ’Lyss told him, “Papa says I may offer you twenty dollars for the colt, but if you won’t take that, to give you twenty-five.”
Those words sealed the fate of ’Lyss’s childhood. In his day, horse trading was art. To practice it well was important to the people of a town. Now, to citizens pre-disposed to believe that Jesse Grant’s boy, ’Lyss, also known by his full name—Ulysses—was a dullard, no further confirmation was needed.
Boys of the town cruelly tweaked Ulysses name. They began to call him—Useless.
The pain of that event and its aftermath burned his heart. Even as a man, fifty years later, he never forgot the words of the boys. “This transaction caused me great heart-burning. The story got out among the boys of the village, and it was a long time before I heard the last of it. Boys enjoy the misery of their companions, at least village boys in that day did.”
Perhaps experiences like these explain why this individual knew so much failure for almost the first half century of his life. Although, he attended West Point, his military credentials for much of his career were unimpressive. He developed a drinking problem, perhaps due to self-loathing and feelings of inferiority.
Amazingly, during the time of war, some of the powers-that-be identified him as outstanding military leader. Most importantly, his commander-in-chief became his champion. Because of his leadership, we Americans today enjoy living in the United States of America.
After achieving the highest rank ever in the United States Army, shared only with George Washington, he completed two terms as President of the United States and became, literally, the most famous man in the world.
Success did not wipe out occasional failures. Robbed by a trusted business partner, he lost everything he had. Battling throat cancer, he decided to write his memoirs. Completion of his autobiography would assure that he would provide for his widow.
Racing death, he completed his memoirs a few days before he died. Today, they are considered along with Julius Caesar’s, GALLIC WARS, to be the finest works ever written by a military leader.
Maybe, Ulysses S. Grant was not “Useless” after all.
I like what Rick Warren has said. If I may paraphrase, he has stated that our lives here on this earth do NOT represent all that we will experience. We will spend more time on the other side of eternity than we do on this side. God is more interested in our character than our comfort.
I am thankful for all that Ulysses S. Grant experienced that helped prepare him for his successes. I am less thankful for my adversity. Still, by faith, I forbear through life’s difficulties as God produces blessings that I cannot foresee.