Life is filled with unexpected blessings. Often they come in the form of rewarding opportunities or wonderful experiences. But many times our most cherished blessings come from adversity that inspires personal growth.
Not long before former White House press secretary Tony Snow died of cancer at age 53, he told reporters he was "a very lucky guy." "Blessings arrive in unexpected packages," he explained, "in my case, cancer." He went on to say that those with potentially fatal diseases "shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things." Instead, he suggested, focus on how "your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter."
Indeed, once we get past the unanswered questions, we might be surprised to find that our hardship has led to a blessing we've long sought. For Joseph of Egypt in ancient times, a famine became an unexpected blessing. Without it, his brothers, who had sold him into slavery and staged his death, would have never come to Egypt seeking food, and they never would have had opportunity to repair their wrong. The famine reunited Joseph with his family.
Truly, it takes faith and courage to see life's challenges as blessings, especially when they can be so difficult and so unexpected. Who could ever be fully prepared for a life-threatening illness? a job loss? a natural disaster? And yet all of these hardships can become turning points: opportunities to learn, to love more deeply, to develop greater kindness and patience, to forgive and cast aside old grudges or resentments.
We can be blessed with wisdom when we understand, in very personal ways, that on the other side of suffering is a depth of feeling, a perspective on life and love that we might not otherwise have known.