Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks for Adversity

Today is Thanksgiving Day in America. The Koreans have their own days of thanks which are much more ritualized than our own ways. The Koreans give thanks more with acts than with words although we have ritualized Thanksgiving with turkey and cranberries.

There is much in our lives for which we are thankful; usually fortunate occurrences that happen to us-lucky things. We may not be quick to thank God for the adversities in life and yet that is a constant teaching of the Scriptures. Things are not what they seem. Even the teaching of the first pages of Genesis tell us that the disobedience of our first parents, in the Church's vocabulary is called the 'Happy Fault'. A strange way of looking at the first sin of human kind.

Here in Korean we have many ways of expressing that good often does comes from misfortune. We see this in our history, in our literature and even in our own lives. God writes straight with crooked lines: " We know that all things work for good for those who love God."(Rm. 8:28)

A few days ago I read an essay in the Chosun Ilbo, written by a Korean resident in the States who gave us a reason for why the suicides of Koreans are so high. She tells us that it is not only in Korea but also in the States we see the same problem. In New York she says on average there are 5 Koreans who end their own lives every month. She says it is 4 times the average. In Los Angeles, suicide as the reason for death among the Koreans is 25% of the total.

She speaks from her own experience and concludes that Koreans have a high level of self control, but that can be the problem, for they do not seek help nor talk about what is bothering them. It is interesting that her Christian Faith was not very helpful. We have Jesus as our mentor and he is the example of what it means to be thankful to God in all circumstances.

Adversity comes into the lives of all of us and we should try to see some good even when we are immersed in so much that is bad. We can look upon what is happening to us from many different angles. There "is a silver lining even to the darkest clouds" in our lives but it does require a preparation to see what for us is all black. One good way is to see how in our own lives the unfortunate events in retrospect have not been all bad. To be able to thank God for adversity is a good sign that we have been able to subdue our egos and can see life not situated in a valley but from the mountain top. Hopefully that will be part of our thanksgiving this Thanksgiving and always.

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