by PASTOR LARRY ROWLAND
Rockford Baptist Church
Almost 300 years ago, an English child was named Jonas in the Hanway family. Jonas did not have an easy childhood. His father died while he was just a boy, forcing him to go to work as an apprentice for a merchant.
As he grew older, Jonas was able to do a great deal of traveling throughout the world, buying and selling merchandise for his company. On one of his business trips, Jonas discovered a device that had been designed to shield a person from rainfall. He thought this invention to be perfect for his rainy homeland, so he brought one back with him to London.
For 30 years, Jonas Hanway used this invention that he called an “umbrella,” carrying it around with him wherever he went. Words fail to describe the ridicule that he faced. Almost everyone who passed him on the street called him names. Young boys often pelted him with eggs or cabbages. He was written about in the paper as “the umbrella man.” Yet Jonas persisted in carrying his umbrella with him. Finally, after three decades of ridicule, some other brave souls began to carry umbrellas.
Today, it’s difficult to find a person walking in London without an umbrella on a rainy day. It was Jonas’ persistent example – enduring ridicule for decades – that has made a practical difference in the lives of millions of people even to this day. And in the process of enduring the humiliation necessary to introduce the umbrella to his country, Jonas developed generosity and character. The opening line of his Wikipedia article describes him as “an English philanthropist.”
Depressed economic conditions are causing hardships for many families. At this time of year, the winter seems to be lingering on and on. Perseverance is a needed virtue. But persistence not only helps us to endure hardships. It can also produce beautiful character in our lives and bless the lives of others around us.