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Embracing Tragedy

By Jonathan R Taylor

This week we"ve witnessed the complete devastation of New Orleans as well as much of the Gulf coast in the aftermath of Katrina. In watching coverage, it's been heartbreaking to see families separated, many without food or shelter. Many small businesses have been completely destroyed as well. It may take years for many of these people to rebuild their lives.

Much of the news paints grim forecasts of what lies ahead, not only for these people but for the rest of the nation as well. Already, some economic prognosticators are predicting increasing fuel prices might tip our economy into another recession. With all of the doom and gloom, it's easy to be disheartened.

Discouragement can easily set in when we start to dwell on all of this, but we must realize that even in the midst of adversity there are lessons to be learned. There are some people who will come out of this tragedy for the better with a positive mindset and move on, while others will place blame on circumstances and make excuses for their unfortunate situation.

A while ago, I read a book entitled Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. The book recounts the tragic Mount Everest expedition that took the lives of eight people in 1996. One of the miraculous stories that came out of this disaster took place in the life of one the climbers, Beck Weathers.

During the descent from Everest, climbers were caught in a nightmarish blizzard that caused temperatures to drop to fifty degrees below zero with 70 mph winds. Weathers, an experienced climber was left behind on the mountain as everyone raced for survival. As the storm subsided, fellow climbers went back out to search for Weathers. He was eventually found, barely breathing and covered in ice. No one thought he"d live much longer so they left him for dead.

Miraculously, Weathers came out of a hypothermic coma and staggered back to camp. His face was unrecognizable due to frostbite. He returned home to Dallas, TX, where he underwent several surgeries; his fingers on his left hand as well as his entire right arm from the elbow down were amputated. His nose was reconstructed using tissue from other parts of his body.

What's even more remarkable is the attitude Beck Weathers displayed through this adversity. He saw his own personal tragedy as a means of learning and growing. He states, "I'm probably a much happier person now having gone through what I've gone through. I have a different set of priorities. You never know who you are and what you are until you've been tested. You gain a whole lot more from having failure kicked up from around your ears than success could ever teach you."

Weather's statement shows more than just a grateful attitude. He displays the attitude of a person who has used adversity as a lesson to make positive changes in his life. In an interview with CBS Evening News, Weathers was asked, "Would you like to have Your Hands Back? His response was "Sure. Would I like my hands back enough to go back to who I was? No."

How many of us truly look at tragic circumstances as tests in our lives? Your attitude toward failure and adversity will determine where you go in the future. Do you constantly make excuses or play the blame game when things go wrong?

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." - James 1:2

Need some positive reinforcement to start each day? Check out Dan Miller's new devotional book Rudder of the Day.

About The Author
Jonathan R Taylor

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