I am listening to a sermon by a priest that I know. I call him ‘Father Hope.’

‘Father Hope’s” faith and wordsmith talent weave stories of great spirituality that stay with me long after I hear them. In fact, he reminds me much of what I love about Beliefnet. He is both faith and inspiration – hence why I initially gave him ‘his column name.’

I absorb his words, as usual.

‘Father Hope’ speaks of the many people that come up to him and tell him how blessed they are. He says he hears it often and from many. He hears of countless prayers of thankfulness for all of those blessings.

Forgive me as I paraphrase here:

“That’s great,” says Father Hope. “Blessings are great, but what about the bad stuff? Why aren’t we thanking God for all the struggles in our life because that is where a lot of the good stuff comes from – hidden blessings.”

“Hmmmm,” I think. “Now there’s a new take on praying about my current situation.”

After all, that is what this St. Luke’s Elementary Catholic school girl remembers most about my youth. That everything is happening for a reason and that God is giving us these challenges to make us into the people we are meant to be. That one day we will look back and be grateful that it shaped us.

Well, luckily for me it didn’t take long to test the strength of this new approach. As usual, tears are not far within my reach at this time. As they flow, I begin to pray.

“Thank you God for these challenges. Thank you for these struggles.”

I repeat it over and over again.

Then something remarkable happens.

I stop crying.

I start to chuckle because quite frankly, it is challenging to keep saying thank you in the midst of such stress, heartache and fear.

All I can do is shake my head and think this new prayer may work well for me. It restores my hope. It takes me from a place of dwelling on being overwhelmed to instead feeling like I can’t wait to see why God has taken me here.

Of course, I should expect no less from ‘Father Hope.”

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