When is it time to give up?  The question faces us all at some time or another.  Some of the worst tragedies affecting individuals today come from the inability to stand life’s strain. 

Many think, ‘If only I could be free of all the contradictory demands that pull me in every direction.  If only I could have enough resource to achieve my dreams.  If only I had the physical capability to hang on.’

In considering those who made an impact on our world one could be forgiven for thinking that in order to achieve their feats, they must have come from fairly comfortable situations.  There was Louis Pasteur, on whose incredible work much of modern medicine rests.  Oh for time and energy to hover round a microscope!  But we discover that he had a paralytic stroke at age 46 and in fact was handicapped for life.

And what about the great musicians and poets with time to entertain people in their living rooms?  Beethoven struggled  against growing deafness to write his music.  Milton wrote his poetry after going blind.

On looking closer we discover that in general, great work has been done by disabled people hanging on in spite of their handicap.  

The poet Wordsworth said of James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine, “I look upon Watt and consider him a genius.  Perhaps the most extraordinary man this country (Britain) has ever produced.”  But Watt had a sick body, and was starving; living on just eight shillings a week.

What made these people unique was not their physical strength, emotional stability or financial resource;  it was their sense of their unique purpose, and total commitment to that purpose.  It is our capability of having a purpose greater than ourselves that separates us from the animals, and makes us human.

Each of us has been given a purpose to fulfil.  To find that purpose and rise above our restrictions is to become truly human.  It is then no longer a matter of when do I give up, but how can I reach my destiny?

And to speak of purpose is to speak of a purpose-giver, accepting the fact that we are creatures who will one day give an account of ourselves.