#FamilyFriday | Perspective

I once heard a story of a man, an athlete, who had both his legs broken in an accident. He would never completely heal and his sports career was over. It would be enough to walk and work a desk job. He spent weeks in the hospital. He would be in pain for years. Evil dealt him a low blow.

But during that time, a particular nurse cared for him, and slowly that care turned to love, and that love turned to marriage. Now an old man, he looks back on his legs being shattered as one of the greatest blessings in his life, because if it were not for that accident, he may never have met the love of his life. God granted him an amazing gift.

Our perspective on "good" and "bad" can change quite dramatically over time, once our judgement isn't clouded by pain and we have the opportunity to see how things turn out. Often, our perception is our reality. If we imagine we are prisoners, we will weld our own iron bars. The opposite is true, too: If we imagine ourselves free, we will shape our own freedom. If we perceive the opportunity to receive good and do good at every turn, we will radiate goodness from above to those around us.

This too is for the good.
— Nachum Ish Gamzu

Rabbi Nachum Ish Gamzu used to say, "This too is for the good." Most of us will merely tolerate pain, what we think is "bad" or inconvenient; on our best day, we suck it up and wait for it to pass. (And on our worst day, we'll straight up throw a hissyfit.) But Rabbi Nachum saw things differently. He once journeyed to Rome with a chest full of gold and jewels for the emperor. When he stopped for the night, the innkeeper stole everything and replaced it with dirt and rocks. Rabbi Nachum didn't know it until he opened the chest before the emperor. He was thrown in prison and sentenced to death for his disrespect. And in that moment, he said, "This too is for the good." (He was eventually vindicated, freed, and sent back to Jerusalem loaded with gifts!) 

There was once another man named Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers, was carried off to Egypt, and spent years in prison. When he eventually rose to power and had the chance to take revenge on his brothers for what they did, what did he say? "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good." Joseph learned it the hard way - he had to wait years to see the good in what had happened to him. Rabbi Nachum, on the other hand, approached life with the perspective already firmly in place.

If you are doing it anyway, you might as well do it with joy.
— Rabbi Chaim Friedlander

If those men can see God's goodness from prison, surely we can see it from our day-to-day lives. If a man can look back and see a crippling injury as the moment God was most gracious to him, then perhaps our difficulties and frustrations aren't as bad as we think they are. It's all about our perspective. Rabbi Chaim Friedlander said, "If you are doing it anyway, you might as well do it with joy." Life happens, guys. We can either be dragged along, kicking and fussing like a 2-year-old, or we can stand up, shake it off, and walk forward in faith.

This #FamilyFriday, try to think of something difficult that you experienced that has brought great blessing. What is the most difficult thing that you are facing right now? Do you feel like you're in prison? Maybe this too is for the good. Flip it upside down and look at it anew. Look for opportunities to grow and be transformed in it. Look for a chance to help someone else who's struggling with the same thing. You could look back in a few years and think, like that old man, "Wow, that was one of God's greatest gifts to me." Maybe it's just hidden under ugly wrapping paper!

Jonathan MitchellComment