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