Hardship or injustice shapes who we are
“Some virtues cannot be produced in us without affliction.”
— Charles H. Spurgeon
For most of us, there is a story of difficulty or hardship or injustice that has helped shape who we are, and those stories are worth recounting.
That’s the main point of a book titled The Fire Within, compiled by Mandy Froehlich.
Froehlich helps schools and individual educators as a trainer and consultor. She is a Director of Innovation and Technology, and a Google for Education Certified trainer.
She published The Fire
Within to tell how different educators have gone through adversity to become stronger individuals.
It is an inspiring read for anyone, because going through hard times—great or small—is common in the human experience.
“This book,” she wrote, “is to remind others who may be suffering that they are not alone, and that especially in the field of education, the characteristics we develop due to adversity can support the people around us.”
The stories in the book prompted me to remember different tales of hardship, some severe, some less so; some short in duration, some lasting for years.
I remember the circumstances of a highly educated professor of theology that I heard speak in church many years ago.
He was the only survivor in a plane crash in a remote area, and with a broken back, he had to crawl for four days before someone found him.
“I want to hear from this man,” a person at the church said, “because if a man has been through a lot of pain, he has something to say.”
Most of our hardships are not that intensely tragic, but they have the same potential to allow us to examine our experiences and come out better for it. The stories in The Fire
Within illustrate that. When a person has suffered or been mistreated or has gone through dire circumstances, he or she almost always gains a fresh perspective or learns valuable insights.
But sometimes it takes an intentional willingness to examine the experience for what it is.
The various stories of the book bring some thoughts to the forefront for anyone who has suffered or is suffering.
From their stories we are reminded that adversity can bring about great personal growth, and it can eventually propel you onward to something greater.
Thoughts like these are a part of what makes The
Fire Within a work of great value.
One minister often made a single statement to individuals who came to him for help when they were struggling with great difficulties.
“Do not miss this opportunity,” he would say, and then he would explain the great potential for blessing and for growth that often awaits those who are suffering.
It sounds strange to think of it that way, but it is true, and it even has a biblical basis. In 2 Corinthians 1 in the Bible it tells how afflictions can actually equip a person to comfort others in the future.
That theme emerges more than once in The Fire
One educator wrote of how hard times can, in the end, make one uniquely qualified.
“… maybe those who have gone through adverse situations,” he wrote, “can offer more than those who don’t experience adverse situations or make mistakes.”
Another told of how it is important to examine
a difficult experience to understand what might be learned from it.
“…upon much reflection,” she wrote, “the most challenging days became the catalyst that would begin to shape me into a better person, wife, mother,
Writing towards the end of the book Froehlich explained that it is important how we approach adversity, difficulty, illness, or trauma.
“In every situation,” she wrote, “we can choose. We can allow adversity to make us bitter, angry people, or we can use what we learn to our advantage …We may not choose to have had our challenging
experiences, but we can choose to learn from them.”