When we experience tragedy and heartache, our first instinct is to turn inward. We build walls because we think they will protect us from the pain. Instead, those very walls keep the negative emotions caged inside until they multiply and consume us.
Conversely, we are comforted when we build bridges and share our painful experiences with others in order to help them through their difficult times.
Several months ago I wrote about what I have learned through the tragedies in my life. I hope it brings you encouragement when you face trials in yours.
My father’s alcohol and drug addiction. His death in a drunk driving crash that he caused. My first daughter’s premature birth and subsequent 89 day stay in the hospital. The four months that my husband worked last year, but didn’t get paid. Can I honestly say that I am thankful for these, as well?
Marrying my best friend. Celebrating my daughter’s first birthday. Moving into our first house. Welcoming two more daughters into our family. All of these are blessings from God for which I am very thankful.
It is so very easy to be grateful when life is going well and all is working out as planned. It can be so much harder to have a heart of gratitude when the unexpected happens or when we experience great loss.
Can we really give thanks in all circumstances?
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Does God really expect us to be thankful for the difficult and painful times? I believe that the answer can be found in the following verse:
“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
It is during the difficult times in my life that I have drawn closer to God to receive the comfort that only He can give. On the other side of the valley, I find that my faith has grown deeper and stronger. It is for that growth that I can be exceedingly grateful.
How can we use our pain to help others?
Because of my father’s death, a message of sobriety has been shared with nearly 100,000 young people across our country. I have been able to wrap my arms around a teenage girl who is aching for the love of her absent father and tell her that I understand.
Since my daughter’s premature birth, God has allowed me to walk with other families as they ride what is called the “NICU roller coaster.”
During these difficult financial times, I have been able to share how incredibly God takes care of us and provides for all of our needs.
Most importantly, I have been able to share the comfort that can only come from God, the same comfort with which I was comforted.
So while I certainly wish that my father was still alive or that my daughter didn’t have to endure the trauma of an early birth, I can honestly say that, yes, I am thankful. Thankful not necessarily for the circumstance, but rather for the opportunities to share God’s great love that came as a result.
I would love to hear from you. Have you been able to take a tragedy in your life and turn it into something positive?