From Jim O'Brien
November 16, 2018

The Gratitude Perspective

Hi Friend,

We have a friend who described a problem she experienced with her adult daughter. Jennifer has a warm and loving heart, is well educated and deeply spiritual. One demonstration of her spirituality is the frequent notes she sends her mom, always with a scripture attached to the bottom of the page.

Some weeks ago the messages began arriving without the customary scripture. The mother called to ask, "What happened to the inspiring quotes at the bottom of your letters?"

The simple answer was short but shocking, "I'm mad at God."

It was an unusual and unexpectedly blunt reply. To explain, Jennifer had been born deaf but mom worked hard to teach her to speak fluently in two languages. Not an easy task for someone without hearing. Her father died when Jennifer was three. Mom focused her attention on the daughter even while working at a demanding job to support the two of them. When Jennifer was eight mom met a kind and gentle man. They dated for a year.

Ironically, at 9 years of age, Jenny asked him to be her father. All that was necessary was that he marry her mother. It became a family of choice and Jenny loved him as much as she would her biological father.

Then a miracle occurred with the invention of cochlear implants. At 22 years of age Jenny discovered for the first time in her life what the rest of us have always experienced. She could hear! But for Jenny it was a dream become real. She grasped her mom by the shoulders and exclaimed emotionally, "Talk to me! I want to hear your voice!"

A few days later they were in a dining hall at the University of South Carolina where Jenny attended college. She went to the restroom and didn't return for a long time. Eventually mom became concerned and went to see what was wrong. She found Jenny going from stall to stall flushing the commodes just to hear the "whoosh" of the water. It's incredible what sounds are exciting to a person that has never experienced hearing.

Every day offered new surprises created by the phenomenon of the second sense. Jenny was puzzled by the mysterious sound she heard as the family sat in the backyard under some Maple trees. "What is that?" she asked. For the first time in 22 years she was hearing a songbird but since she could not see the source of the sound she could not identify the origin. How could she know what caused something she was hearing for the first time?

Jenny graduated from college with a high GPA but the economy turned bad and jobs weren't available in her field.

This was followed by a marriage that was personally catastrophic. In tears she cried out, "Why has God done all these things to me?" And thus the anger.

There is a proclivity in all of us to blame God for the bad things that happen in life even while we overlook His generous blessings.

Thankfully, the story does not end there. She took responsibility for her life in spite of the challenges. She began to realize that God is not the cause of the problems-He is the solution. She saw Him as the One who gives good gifts-the mother who loved her through the trials-the second father whom she loves-the cochlear implant that gave her an appreciation of hearing, a gift taken for granted by most of us. Now she is preparing for marriage to a man with character.

What she learned is important to us all. The Apostle Paul expressed it well when he wrote to the Church at Philippi, " every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Phil. 4:6)

It is essentially the same concept spoken by the Psalmist, "Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms." (Psalm 95:2)

I suspect that most of us could benefit from Jenny's experience. God did not change. Jenny changed the way she "saw" Him. She no longer sees Him as the source of evil, rather she sees Him as the source of good-and that has made all the difference.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien