Happy Thanksgiving! Today, I’ve got two, true, short stories about living blessed lives and finding joy in suffering.
Tony and Alison
A few days ago, “Tony” told me about his daughter “Alison” (not their real names). Alison was born prematurely, at 25 weeks. That’s a real medical challenge today, but Alison was born 21 years ago—even more difficult given the resources and knowledge of the time. Tony shared, in great detail, the battles they fought to save Alison’s life. He remembered, as if it occurred last week, all the medical terminology, and doctors’ and nurses’ names. They all survived the ordeal but Alison was not left untouched. She has lived with physical and mental disabilities and her family has struggled along with her.
What impressed me most throughout Tony’s story was his love and commitment to Alison. He shared some horrific stories of what it means to be the parent of a child with such challenges. Home life, work life, relationships with friends and family, and Alison’s schooling were all dramatically affected. Yet, his love for her and commitment to her were palpable and deep. I confess to occasionally whining about living an “average” life. Tony’s story helped me remember how wrong I am and that my life is so incredibly special.
Andrew and His Cold
A couple nights later, after praying with my sons, Alex and Andrew, at bedtime, Andrew made a comment between sniffles. (He’s had a bad cold for several days and has maintained a good attitude throughout.) Andrew said, “Having this cold has helped me see how blessed I am.” Hiding my surprise, I said, “Tell me more.” Andrew recalled what the Apostle Paul said about suffering and added, “Paul talked about rejoicing in suffering and I think I understand what he was talking about now. Even though I’ve been suffering with this cold, I can see how blessed I am.”
Amen, Andrew, Amen!
Paul talks about suffering in the Christian walk in several parts of his letters, but here are the words that Andrew referred to that night:
“… We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5, ESV).
After Andrew shared his reflection with me, I whispered into his ear, “I think the Holy Spirit has been talking to you.”
I trust you’ve been able to recount your blessings this week. I know that not all of life is fun, or enjoyable, or pleasant. I do know, though, that in the midst of all of life—both good and bad—that the greatest blessing is that the one true God loves you deeply.
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.
Photo “Autumn Leaves” by blmiers2. Available at Flickr.com.