Saturday, April 13, 2013

Good from bad

"all things work together for good"
Romans 8:28

I read a new book a few weeks ago.  It was another book that I was reading in advance of assigning it to one of my kids.  I never heard of it, though.  Discovering new, interesting, educational books is one of my favorite things about teaching my kids.

The book is called The Moved-Outers, by Florence Crannell Means.  It's about a Japanese-American family, interned in a camp during World War II.  The kids in the family are high-schoolers; a boy and a girl who deal with this event in very different ways.  The boy had been thinking about graduation, and what came after ~ getting a job, deciding whether or not to join his father's business...  The girl thought mostly about her education and, well, boys.   But not in a flighty kind of way.  It's just what was next, to her way of thinking.  A couple more years of high school, and then a few years after that, she expected to be married, and following in her mother's footsteps.

Obviously, their surroundings and detention derailed all that.

The boy turned bitter.  Though he stayed true to his upbringing for the most part, he did have a few run-ins with the camp authorities.

The girl, however, had a view of their circumstances that fascinated me.  She never seemed bitter at all.  Her mother seemed to have a sort of shrugging view of what had happened to them.  Sort of "it is what it is; what can you do?"

But the girl in the book took it one step further.  Her outlook was one I've never seen before, in the different books I've read about this period in history.  She felt that they were still Americans, and they were suffering for a good reason ~ for the sake of their country.  Either they were suffering while their country ~ America ~ made mistakes and learned from them (which we did, and we have); or they were suffering so that their country could concentrate on the war overseas.  She just seemed to understand, in a way that I never thought a Japanese-American would have.

I think, in a very simple way, she understood what many of us take a lifetime to understand ~ the idea that suffering has a purpose.  I love telling my kids, "that which does not kill us makes us stronger."  They probably get sick of hearing it, but it's true. 

Some things we bring on ourselves.  Other things are just the world and the stupidity of man.  But the attitude with which we bear them can make a big difference in how we come out of them.  I've heard it said, we can either let difficulties make us better, or bitter

Welcome to my cliche festival.

There is so much in life over which we have no control.  And I don't think we should just let life run us over.  But when we have to endure something, it's better for our hearts and our bodies and our spirits to trust that it won't last forever, and that we'll be the better for it. 

The girl in the story knew that.  But she knew, too, that her country would be the better.  And that would have been even harder to believe, I think, for someone living through that.  But I love the idea of remembering that while God is working things for your good, He's working things for the good of so many others.  Maybe your spouse, maybe your whole family, maybe even your country. 

He can do that.  He's God.  And not only can He do that, He does do that.  Believe it.

~ "May the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace in believing, 
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in hope" ~
Romans 15:13

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