Challenges can be gifts
All through my life I have faced serious challenges. At two years old I had scarlet fever and chicken pox – illnesses that left serious indentations in my skin 49 years later. During a recent visit to the doctor she reminded me that only one in 10 people survived this combination of diseases.
As a teen, these spots combined with my short height gave me an inferiority complex that near crippled my high school journey. As an older teen, I grew up in the 1980s when coke and crack were making some rich and many poor; when young men were challenged to abandon the long-term rewards of education for the short-term gains of the drug trade.
At 28, I contracted tuberculosis and spent two weeks in hospital and a year on a strong antibiotic regiment. In my later adult life, challenges abounded in terms of finances, failings and frustrations. I enjoyed none of these challenges but each, in retrospect, was a gift.
If you want to get strong, you need to lift weight. There is no strengthening of muscles without burden. In suffering, you learn patience to wait; wait on time, wait on seasons, wait on the Lord. In persecution, you learn grace; grace to love your enemies, grace to serve your friends. In disadvantage, you learn resourcefulness; you learn to compensate for your weaknesses by focusing on your strengths. Yes, at the time of their discomfort, I longed for my challenges to pass but in my present I thank God that they made me better. Against the backdrop of all my achievements, whatever I or others believe them to be, there are these challenges that lifted me, that made me stronger.
Our nation faces many challenges. We struggle with difficult projects. Our quest for greater and wider spread prosperity is a challenge. The education of our people with sufficient knowledge and skills to serve their ambitions is a challenge. The maintaining of law and order for the safety and comfort of our state is a challenge. The securing of our borders from unbridled intrusion is a challenge. Trust in our leadership and reasonableness in our citizenry are challenges. These and more are unpleasant to experience, yes unpleasant to endure, yet they are our gifts. In facing them we learn courage, and in solving them we find wisdom. Courage and wisdom in a people are an unstoppable force. They are what make a good people a great people.
We should not let complaining and bitterness define us. We should not let whining and whimpering defeat us. We should take courage and find wisdom. In them, we will be able to meet our challenges, however long it takes. When we do this, we will find that these present agonies were gifts to the soul of our nation. We will find that they brought out the best in us and gave us the ability to meet many more challenges as we become the people of our dreams.
• Zhivargo Laing is a Bahamian economic consultant and former Cabinet minister who represented the Marco City constituency in the House of Assembly.