“Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.” This quote was part of a daily devotional given to me by a good friend. Although simple and short, the quote provides sound wisdom for a world that can easily be focused on the negative. Age brings it share of challenges, but it also can bring an increased awareness of the opportunities found in our most challenging circumstances. I have a good friend who I speak with regularly on the phone. He frequently will start our conversation by asking how many “opportunities” the week has brought my way. By asking this question he frames our conversation toward the positive – seeing each challenge as an opportunity for growth and learning. It can seem counter-intuitive that our greatest learnings are frequently grounded in our most difficult struggles.
I clearly remember decades ago a women in our church who was in the final stages of cancer. Her life would soon come to an end and she would leave behind a wonderful family. She would not see her children get married. She would not experience the joys of hugging her grandchildren. One would not expect thankfulness to be at the top of her list of emotions. One morning she spoke to our congregation and shared thankfulness for her cancer. She shared that there were times when she simply cried out in the field behind their home, but mostly she was thankful – thankful because of what she learned and who she became largely because of her extremely difficult circumstances.
Knowing this mom and talking with my opportunity-focused friend mentioned above remind me of another quote from that same devotional:
“It is impossible to spend too much time considering things for which we can be thankful.”
Thanksgiving certainly brings a reminder of many wonderful blessings – the children we get to work with each day at OSD, teachers who care about students as if they were their own, families that love their children deeply, a community which invests in each other, a country with freedoms that were hard-earned through the sacrifices of our veterans… the list can go on and on. Yet, we also know we live in a time with many tough challenges, and the holidays often magnify circumstances both positively and negatively. It is my hope that each of us can live out yet another piece of wisdom from my devotional:
“As you go through this day, look for tiny treasures strategically placed along the way.”
Your children are the tiny treasures which remind us of our purpose. Thank you for entrusting us with a portion of their education and growth. It is an opportunity for which we are thankful and an opportunity which reminds us of our purpose.
May you each have a blessed Thanksgiving!