Last Saturday the Deseret News (newspaper published in Salt Lake) carried an article entitled, "Be Thankful--There's a Theology of Gratitude."
One of the personal experiences the article discussed was of a Christian author named Sara Hagerty, who suffered through a series of trials--loss of loved ones, troubled marriage, infertility.
Because of her Christian faith she noted the gratitude she felt in the midst of hardship. She said,
"I can't put a timeline on it, but somewhere in the middle there, when I started to realize that God was inviting me into a deeper encounter with him, even though my circumstances weren't changing, there was a gratitude that wouldn't be shaken by my circumstance," Hagerty said this week from her home in Kansas City, Missouri. "I've found God here and nothing can shake my gratitude for what he's given me, in himself." [italics mine]
Trials and tribulations are a normal, expected part of life--I understand that very well. I also understand how refining those experiences are, and would not trade for the world the growth that comes through difficulty. But I had never considered the purpose of those types of human experiences in the profound way Sara expressed it: "God was inviting me into a deeper encounter with him."
An invitation. From God. Thinking of trials as God's way of getting to know him deeply makes me realize I have some missed opportunities in my past. To be invited by God is a privilege and a blessing.