We live in a culture where people want to be well, have possessions and be celebrities.
We don’t like failure or what we perceive as less than what we should be or have.
I find it in my medical work too that there is a high expectation that illness will be cured, that pain should be relieved and that we shouldn’t have to suffer.
Now to an extent those things are true, but I think we can also learn a lot from difficult situations, failure and suffering.
I have read the story of a lady called Helen Keller recently.
She was born towards the end of the 19th century and was fine until she was 18 months old when she became deaf and blind after an illness. Her parents believed she could still do well and hired a tutor to teach her.
Helen learned to communicate in an amazing way.
She was able to go to college and even as a teenager she was a celebrity because of the way she had overcome her problems and through a book she wrote, which is still in print today.
She started to lecture and get support for those who were blind as well as lobbying for women’s rights.
She eventually gained an international reputation, had a movie made about her, and got funding from US presidents for the blind.
Some of her quotes are really well known and give us a glimpse into the person she was.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
She also had a faith which helped her see her life here in the light of what was to come.
“Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”
She wasn’t defined by her disability – instead she persevered to overcome and use her situation for the benefit of others. She was invited to the White House several times and was an amazing example of how the human spirit overcomes difficulties.
Sometimes it’s good to remember that good can come from even the most awful situations and personal tragedies.