Hard­ship or in­jus­tice shapes who we are

The Weekly Vista - - Opinion - DAVID WIL­SON

“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,

and teacher!”

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.”

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