#1 – Persecution and antagonism
Did you ever wonder why Jesus said, “… love your enemies, and bless those who curse you, pray for those who spitefully use you… “? – Matthew 5:44. We know that our persecutors, oppressors, detractors and enemies actually cause us much pain.
But then, just as motion only arises from overcoming friction, our most vicious enemies may be fueling our rise to greatness – if we have the right attitude.
In the words of Edmund Burke, “He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.”
#2 – Catch-22 type challenges
Catch-22 comes from the novel of that title by American author Joseph Heller. The phrase describes a challenging situation that changes as we ourselves change to overcome it – with the net result that there is no change in the status quo.
Who feels it knows it all. Only those who have experienced extreme frustration of this type understand the pain and hopelessness.
But then, if you survive a catch-22 your reward is a paradigm shift in your consciousness of reality – a breakthrough. In the words of Johnson A. Ladipo, “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you till it seems as if you could not hold a minute longer, never give it up then, for that’s just the place and the time the tide will turn to your favour and advantage.”
#3 – Past failures
Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. Failure can be a devastating experience. Yet careful observation reveals that we humans learn more useful and complete lessons from poignant failure than from exhilarating success.
The wisdom of the Tao Te Ching tells us that “failure is the foundation of success, and the means by which it may be reached.” No less a personality than Soichiro Honda, Founder of Honda Motors attests to this with his words, “Many people dream of success. To me success can be achieved only through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success only represents one percent of your work that results from 90 percent of that which is called failure. Very few unacquainted with failure will ever know the true joy of success”
So if you have failed many times but are lucky enough to still be alive – give thanks, for now you begin to “get it” and your success is near – if you persevere.
#4 – Fears and phobias
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” – this is what keeps many of us on the path of rectitude. However, fear is only useful if we do not permit it to degenerate into a state of panic.
Fear keeps us on our toes, prevents our accomplishments from “going to our head” and keeps us learning and improving ourselves. Since wealth is usually a by-product of learning, our fears actually fuel our drive to prosperity.
Also, our fears and phobias can stimulate us to develop a stronger self-image through drawing upon our infinite inner faculties.
In the words of the stoic philosopher Lucius Seneca, “I will look upon death or upon a comedy with the same expression of countenance: I will submit to labours, however great they may be, supporting the strength of my body by that of my mind… ”
#5 – Painful losses
This is probably the hardest and bitterest thing to feel any gratitude for. Indeed, many have been destroyed or crippled for life by the harrowing experience of a painful loss.
Inasmuch as I sincerely sympathize with all who have suffered one painful loss or the other – Lord knows, I have had my fair share – yet, life, in its infinite wisdom knows that it may be only through such means that some of us can fulfill our destinies.
The excruciating pain of some losses have conferred on some the virtue of extreme determination, which has taken them to untold success and accomplishment. Others, through painful losses have been deprived of the crutches they had been leaning on all their lives. This has awakened them to such powers of self-reliance and creativity they never dreamed they possessed.
In all circumstances we must always remember that God’s love for us is unconditional. God loves us more than we can ever comprehend. It is that love that makes him let us go through what should bring out the best in us. The luster of a diamond is only produced by the great temperature and pressure it was subjected to. It is only the crucible of fire that forges tempered steel.