By Colin Lane
It began as a simple game of matching numbers printed on oblong pieces of ivory, perhaps as early as the 1200s. Then, one day someone put the dominoes next to each other on their ends, tipped one over, then watched the chain reaction as each piece was knocked on to the next one until they all lay flat.
The challenge then became to do this with ever-increasing numbers of dominoes, then in various patterns and progressing to incorporate obstacles and other bits and pieces into the process.
And so now the common term 'the domino effect' was coined, used to describe a small change that causes a similar effect nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on in a linear sequence.
Sometimes we feel that we are in the midst of a 'domino effect'. This could be a time of hardship that seems to trigger a string of other trials. Perhaps it is the loss of a job that starts a downward spiral, the death of a loved one, a divorce or an accident that triggers a decline in health. Something happens to us, and sometimes that event seems to set off other events that create chaos, hurt, despair, sickness, financial difficulties or trouble with the law.
We can make one small mistake, or tell one small lie, and the 'domino effect' begins creating a mountain out of what began as a molehill.
As the troubles and trials mount, we find it hard to believe that there is a God who has everything under control.
One of the Bible writers, James, had this perspective: 'Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.'
It's never nice enduring harsh, difficult times in our lives, but we can usually look back and see how living through that trial has made us stronger or better people, more faith-filled and tougher.
The Bible tells us that God is at work, not to shelter us from every difficulty in life, because that would make us weak, but to help us through our trials to build our character.
An old hymn says it well:
'He (God) gives us more grace (undeserved kindness) when the burdens grow greater, He sends more strength when the labours increase, to added affliction he adds his mercy, to multiplied trials he multiplies peace.'
When the dominoes seem to be tumbling in your life, look to God for strength, believing that as God brings you through your trials, you will be a stronger person.
Follow Colin on Twitter: @lane_colin