Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blessings in Disguise

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to teach a class using my new Lenten study, Blessings of the Cross (Cokesbury). It's a lectionary-based Bible study based on the theme of "blessings in disguise."

What is a blessing in disguise? It can be almost anything. However, we use this phrase to describe negative events that turn out to have positive value.

Here are some examples. Through an illness we learn how to depend upon others for help and experience deeper gratitude. After a financial crisis, we discover what really matters to us. Because of a failure we get in touch with humility and a renewed resolve to go forward. After a tragedy such as the death of someone close to us, we learn resilience in the face of a devastating loss.

None of us would call an illness, financial crisis, failure or devastating loss a "blessing." In fact, these would seem to be the opposite of blessings. Yet, if we learn from these negative things and are able to get in touch with our inner resources of faith and perseverance, they can be character and faith building.

Certainly, the cross is a blessing in disguise. This instrument of torture and execution has been transformed into the central symbol of the Christian faith. Through the eyes of faith, the cross represents new life, new hope and even joy. If the cross can be transformed into something positive and life-giving, so can any horrible thing that happens to us in life.

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