And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8:28 (NLT)]

deer - corkscrew swamp sanctuaryWhile I don’t call it the “glad game,” like Pollyanna, I do look for the hidden blessings God conceals in my challenges, disappointments and heartbreak. At the age of 96, my lively and alert father-in-law died, but not of natural causes as one would suspect; he died within an hour of being in a car accident. I was shocked when my mother-in-law said, “I’m so glad he went that way!” Recovering from the same accident, she was in a nursing home at the time. “He would have hated being in a place like this,” she elaborated. While I would have preferred God taking Grandpa while he napped in his easy chair, I had to admit she had a point. Like a cat with nine lives, he’d made several amazing recoveries from earlier strokes and health problems and still had a good quality of life. In reality, however, he was just a fall or another stroke away from becoming an infirm resident in a nursing home. Indeed, this energetic and active man of faith was ready for his heavenly home and would have hated waiting for his departure as an invalid. Instead of being angry at the driver who caused the accident, I chose to look at that accident as a blessing in deep disguise.

Hidden blessings are just that—hidden—and sometimes well concealed. Rarely are they immediately evident but it is our task to seek them. My mother died of cancer when I was fifteen and the only child still at home. As a result, my emotionally detached and workaholic father was left with a teenager he really didn’t know while I was left with a man my siblings and I called the “ogre.” He knew next to nothing about parenting and I resented his coldness and dogmatic ways. Nevertheless, my mother’s death threw us together in a way that demanded change and that change would never have happened had she lived. Eventually, the ogre became a loving father and a far better man while the bratty troubled teen became a loving daughter and a far more compassionate woman.

While I wish I could have had my mother longer and my father and I mourned her absence, in an odd way, we were blessed by that absence. I am thankful for those five special years God gave me with my father before he, too, went home to the Lord.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. [Romans 8:35,37 (NLT)]

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