Today I am a year older than my father lived to be.  I’m 36 years old.  Many will read those sentences and think “How sad” but what I think is “How Blessed”. I have been blessed with more time with my family (wife and children) than my father was given (I was eight when my father died, my oldest child is seventeen) and what better gift could a person ask for in this life? Every day that I live is a blessing from God.  Every breath, every sip of bourbon, every laugh, every tear, every joy, every pain, every hour of labor, every confession, every Eucharist, all are blessings worthy of praise.

In these times as in all times men often think of all the things that are “wrong” with the world or wrong in our lives but seldom take the time to think of all the blessings both obvious and veiled that God has placed in our lives.  Pain can be a blessing, so can suffering, so can death and loss.  Now I hear many saying “How can those be blessings?” so I say in reply look to Christ. Christ Jesus suffered pain, humiliation and ultimately death for our sins and our salvation, is that not a blessing to all men, women, and children? If I die saving the life of another – are not I and that person equally blessed?

My father’s passing is something I’ve often thought of both in terms of a “what if” and how if this very painful event had not occurred.  I’m sure I would be a very different person today, so I should be grateful that God helped me to be the person I am despite the pain and anguish that my father’s death caused.  So my thoughts are that though my father’s death was a tragedy and harmed me in many ways, it also formed me into the man that my wife fell in love with and shaped my life in such a way that I am who I am, in part, because of that tragic event and so I should be grateful to God for that.  That is the miracle of suffering in Christ, that was is objectively bad can be made into something sanctifying by grace and in Christ.

Challenges come, but a distinctly Christian attitude in even the hard things is gratitude.  Be thankful for all the things that come to you in this world.  The love lost may lead to a true love discovered.  The death of a loved one may lead to a deeper understanding of life and open us more to love.  The loss of a job may lead us to a new career that we’d never have considered before. The unplanned pregnancy might be the greatest thing to ever happen to your life. Blessings are often seen as hardships until time has worn away the rough edges and exposed the beauty of God’s plans. Thank God for both the little and the big, the dark and the light, the material and the incorporeal. Thank God for all things. God Bless and Keep you all. Amen.

Written by Mr. Zachary Swinehart

  • Bob Ewald

    I was fortunate: my dad passed away at 94 with a clear mind. He was sick for only short while leading up to it, then he passed away in hospice. But during his brief illness, I had two stents placed in the widow-maker in my heart – I had no symptoms. Doctor told me I was about 2 months from dropping dead. So in my dad’s closing weeks, I learned about redemptive suffering from him and how he managed his remaining days. And I got to be with him as he passed from this life – shortly after watching Mass together on EWTN.

  • Grn724

    My father’s passing is something I’ve often thought of both in terms of a “what if” and how if this very painful event had not occurred.

    This first sentence from the third paragraph is a thought likely every person has. I know I did about many circumstances in life. My dad walk away from mom and us (10 Children) in 1970. This was not exactly a common at that time. As a family there was a great deal of shame involved. Fellow classmates in school had things to say, most was not good. There were multiple siblings in the same Catholic school, so often we would relate to mom what was being said. It was a most difficult time. My dada walked away to be with another woman, yet we never saw him again. I found myself asking God, why me? or what have I done to deserve such a fate.

    Now, 61 years old, God answered me through a life of pain and heartache. How, you might ask? Through all the misery and suffering, at my own hands was much of it, I had to stop blaming my dad and God, for this was my ticket to lifelong victimhood. Many a man who helped me through all of this and many had one clear message, God is using my suffering to draw me near to Him. I was mad at God for most of my life, yet I now knew I needed Him, His love and His forgiveness. As Jesus puts it in “The Lord’s Prayer” us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Slowly it became clear, I must forgive my dad. When I did, though not immediately, I discovered a new attitude and outlook upon life. Instead of looking at everything wrong with me and the world about me, I was able to see the blessings that had been given to me from God. Today I am a truly blessed soul and at peace with my father on earth and my Father in Heaven.