Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blessed by Adversity

My heart is so full after having listened to an interview with Gary Ceran on the Mormon Channel. If your life has been touched by the pain of loss, or divorce, or other earthly sorrow, Brother Ceran shares a message and a faith that will uplift and encourage you.

I remember hearing about his public loss in the news a few years ago. A drunk driver, and illegal alien, broadsided his family as they drove through a green light. It was Christmas Eve. Gary's wife and two children were killed in the accident.

I remember the anger I felt in my heart towards that man when I read the news. I remember the angry comments left online below the newspaper story.

Now I know that Gary Ceran was not angry and he was not bitter. In fact, he offered a plea in behalf of the driver at his sentencing that the judge would lighten his sentence. Gary said that he had been carried by the thousands of people praying for him and his family, but no one was praying for Carlos. He, too, had a great loss that night, and would have to live with the horror of it for the rest of his life, which should be punishment enough.

Gary's perspective on death had been shaped over the course of a lifetime. Before the car accident that took his wife and 14 year old son and 7 year old daughter, Ceran had lost 5 other children. 3 were born with a brain tumor that doctors said would never hit the same family twice. Twins died in premature birth.

He learned that God shapes us to be like him when he allows these trials to come upon us. As one of his children was struggling for life years before, the people in his community rallied around him and his family. They prayed and fasted. People came up to Gary and told him that because of his infant daughter's condition, they were coming back to church. Gary pondered all the good that had been done in people hearts as they labored in prayer and supplication for his girl. In her less than two years of life, she changed more hearts than many people will change in a full lifetime.

Gary learned not to hold a grudge against God. And he taught us all how to forgive in challenging times. It is a lesson I want to remember.


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