On June 10, 1752, Benjamin Franklin conducted his famous experiment of flying a kite in a thunderstorm and capturing an electrical charge in a Leyden jar. I suspect that this historical event in some way gave rise to the expression of “catching lightning in a bottle.” The phrase itself communicates the idea of the difficulty of accomplishing some elusive or hard-to-reach goal. Franklin’s life is a great illustration of one who achieved some remarkable goals, overcoming significant obstacles in the process.
Benjamin’s father, Josiah, a soap and candle maker by trade, had 17 children by two wives. Benjamin was the 15th of these and the 10th and last son. His father could only afford to send him to school for two years, so by the age of 10, Benjamin was a dropout. A voracious reader, Franklin devoured books and epitomized the self-educated man. He was apprenticed to an older brother at the age of 12 where he learned the printing business. Franklin would go on to distinguish himself in multiple arenas as a publisher, philanthropist, civic leader, and a statesman. Perhaps he is best remembered for the witty sayings published in Poor Richard’s Almanac and as a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
When we face adverse circumstances and challenges in life, far more encouraging to us than the example of a self-made man like Benjamin Franklin is the strength we find to persevere through God’s Word and the support and prayers of fellow believers. The writer of Hebrews challenges us to run the race set before us with endurance, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2). Hope fixed in Him will not leave us disappointed.