The Gift of Hope

When Tragedy is Our Teacher

By JoAnne E Billison 

Oh, the memories!Valuable life lessons can be learned in the wake of tragedy. The irony of having my long awaited for landscape torn to bits left me somewhat bothered, but I was determined to remain focused on Christ. So, I decided to see what I could learn from the incident.

Experience imparts the most memorable lessons. Whether joyful or not, major events shape our lives. Have you ever faced a scary situation and walked away from the experience a little bit wiser? I remember learning many valuable lessons from childhood mishaps. If you can’t think of anything specific, perhaps my story will prompt a memory or two.

Oh, the memories!

When I was 5, my best friend and I did everything together. I remember one afternoon she talked me into hiding under her bed as she left to run errands with her mom. I don’t know what we were thinking. All I can remember was my friend wanted me in her room when she returned.

Within a few minutes of her being gone, I became scared…really scared. My world even became scarier because someone entered the house! EEK! My mind raced with anxious thoughts, “What if they find me”, and “what am I going to say?” “Someone will probably yell at me,” leading up to my final thought, “I have to get out of here RIGHT NOW!” I remember my heart racing as I tip toed out of the house. I ran to my own home like a pack of dogs were chasing me.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. I learned that it was not a good idea to hang out in someone’s home, alone, without permission. That lesson helped me understand proper boundaries as I grew up. Even though I made a mistake, the experience stayed with me and helped shape me into the woman I am today.

Valuable effort

Following the car incident many commented they were sorry to hear someone destroyed the work I put into my yard. They grieved for me over what was lost. They couldn’t see what I gained because they didn’t have the same experience with my yard that I did.

In life, we judge ourselves successful when our work achieves our desired goals. When our hard work falls apart, we feel as though our efforts were in vain. Our efforts and successfulness should never be determined by the outcome of our work. The lessons we learn, as we work towards our goals, are a better judge of our labors. If we stay teachable, God can teach us from everything that happens to us in life. The Old Testament is full of stories of men and women who developed character and learned life lessons out of their difficult circumstances. Because they were teachable, God could shape them into good leaders.

A “life changing” experience is an experience that impacts our hearts so deeply that it alters the way we think and act. Tragic life experiences can change our lives in a positive way, if we are willing to learn from them.

Developing character

David writes, “Guide me in your truth, and teach me; for you are the God who saves me, my hope is in you all day long (Ps 25:5). God guided me when I labored over my yard, and He was with me when a drunk driver swept in and tore it all apart. He used both events to sand and polish my character a little bit more. A destroyed yard can’t take that away from me. Helen Keller said it best, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved. It is in the most trying times that our real character is shaped and revealed.”

Every challenge we face helps shape us into the men and women God meant us to become. We may find ourselves amid unwanted circumstances, but if we place our trust in God, He will bring us through and teach us along the way.

In regards to my circumstances, my primary concerns were that I have a beautiful yard. God, however, was more interested in building something more beautiful in me. By remaining focused on Christ, I put myself into the perfect position to receive all He had for me. God wants to build something more beautiful in you too. Are you ready to take your eyes off your circumstances and start gazing heavenly?

One last story will show how God turned everything into something more beautiful ...

Next StoryThoughts to ponder:

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Definition of Leadership:

Giving your heart to others by listening to their heart


When you grow a leader who values people you help the whole world

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