Yesterday I wrote about how you count your blessings, and said that it is really important to count your blessings. As an inventory control manager when I worked in the computer industry, I had a natural talent at tracking and counting things. That started when I was a little girl. One of my aunts had given me a little gift set of about half a dozen tiny bottles of perfume and a bottle of hand lotion that was slightly bigger. I loved to rearrange them on my dresser into various shapes. I lined up my family’s books and record albums in various order. I volunteered at the library to shelve books. I rearranged my little holy cards in various arrangements. I didn’t do this obsessively, it just made me happy to see them arranged in various ways. That was a tactile way of reminding myself of their deeper meaning.
I think that was part of the reason for the creation of rosaries. You see, tactile connection to prayer embeds prayer in a different way than silent reflection or oral statement. Just like saying I love you on the phone is different from wrapping your arms around someone and saying the same thing.
So it is certainly with gratitude and humility that we recall, remember, and count our blessings. But we should also do the same thing with our hardships and challenges. For when we are hit with suffering in life, we learn a lesson as well. The hardship or challenge is always bundled with either an obvious or more hidden thing. I was going to say blessing, but it is sometimes hard to call it a blessing. I will give you an example. A few years ago my husband went through a layoff that lasted about 9 months. Financially it was really, really terrible. We didn’t know if he would ever find another full time job again. It was a terrible blow emotionally as well. I left corporate America when we adopted our son, and corporate America was not interested in hiring me, as I had been home for 20+ years.
So, after extended prayer, God provided a huge blessing. He led me to WyzAnt which is the tutoring company that I still work for. What a HUGE blessing. It didn’t come close to making up for my husband’s lost income, but it helped. The other blessing that came from my husband’s unemployment was for our son. He was in college at the time, and as it turns out,during the semester of the layoff our son needed my husband to tutor him in subjects that happen to be in his specialty. If he had been employed, he would have been unavailable, as he works long hours. As a result of THAT, our son graduated with honors. So you see, there was a direct connection.
However, other times our hardships and challenges lead to future blessings in a far less direct way. But you see, our hardships and challenges have purpose. As we work our way through them, or in other cases barely survive them as we lay whimpering on the mat at the end, they do have purpose. Yes they can and do make us stronger. But they help in other ways. Our stories of survival may very well provide strength for someone else’s journey down the road. We are all connected.
I must today, try to view past hardships, challenges, hurts, and sufferings with gratitude. For you see, He never leaves me alone to suffer. Nope, He sure doesn’t. Furthermore, as life chisels away at my granite, my Sculptor will create something that pleases Him. I can serve a purpose during life’s storms and dark days, not just during the glorious sunrises and sunsets.
So today, rather than resentfully recall past hardships or hurts, I will recall them with thankfulness. I am thankful that I came through them. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to share them with someone who was going through a similar challenge. I am grateful for my failures, too. You see, if I don’t reach a dead-end, it is difficult for my stubborn self to realize that I need to turn and go another way. At times I am hardheaded, are you?
Even though our roads may seem long, with many twists and winding turns, and occasional chasms to leap across……God provides strength for our journeys. Friends are there, sweet memories are there, and so much more. Our burdens get heavy, and when they do, my friend, rest. Rest in the knowledge that you are loved and cherished beyond measure; even on days when it doesn’t feel like it.