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  • Reverend James Squire

It's Always Something

It’s Always Something is the title of Gilda Radner’s book that recounts her struggle with ovarian cancer in 1989. She was one of the original cast members of the primetime players on Saturday Night Live. She would close her part of her skit by saying that line, “It’s always something.” Little did she know then that those words represent a truth about life. It was this attitude that helped her to move forward through her treatment for cancer until it eventually took her life. It is a truth in the same way that the title of my last book, This Too Shall Pass, is a truth. Both of these statements are keys to living the abundant life. They are a given about the very nature and fabric of life itself.

No one gets through life without taking some form of a hit. We think that others have a trouble- free existence. It is why the story of the Tree of Sorrows rings so true. In that story that recounts that when we die, we will have the opportunity to place our sorrow on a tree. We then must walk around the tree. We are free to exchange our sorrow for another by merely picking it off the tree. The moral of the story is that we choose to continue to choose our own.

Living by Radner’s phrase is at the heart of several world religions. Buddhism sees suffering as an integral part of life as does Judaism and Christianity. In Buddhism, suffering is one of the major issues to describe its basic tenets. Rabbi Harold Kushner summarized the Jewish view with the statement that “Tragedy doesn’t have a ticket into our life. It has a box seat.” It is already there in life waiting to encounter us. Christianity teaches that suffering is an expectation in life because we live in a broken world. Life is referred to as “after the Fall.”

The book of Job attempts to answer that most challenging question for humankind. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Job discovers his answer as he wrestles with God that reason is inadequate. Only faith helps to make sense of it all to move forward.

If we live into these two truths that “it is always something” and “this too shall pass” we will embrace a reality that holds our lives with the arms of truth. Both phrases need to describe our expectation of what life should be because it is the nature of life itself. It is irony or a paradox that once we embrace this expectation, we are better able to move through life with joy. We don’t get bogged down with the negative outcry, “Why me?” We are free to live with courage and conviction through the process of all of life and not look to have total fulfillment with the product whatever that happens to be.

There is real joy in solving our problems and helping others to solve there’s for it’s always something. That gives us meaning and purpose as opposed to a bigger house, bigger amounts of money, or focusing just on me. “People plan and God laughs!”

Upon reflection I realized that I have spent my life dealing with “somethings” that has happened to those along life’s happy way sometimes taking the form of a surprise that life serves up to them as well as it is true in my own life.

People down through the ages discovered this truth. Freud commented that “In retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”

Bill Buckley, hosted a TV show called Firing Line. Buckley was an American conservative who founded The National Review, which launched conservatism in the mid 20th century. He interviewed a who’s who of famous people on the world stage on his show. I watched the show and read his book, Firing Line, containing various interviews that he did. He was asked what guest changed him and had the most important message and influence on his life. He shocked his questioner by instantly replying, “Malcolm Muggeridge.” Muggeridge was a British journalist and social critic. By the world’s standards he was not very powerful or well-known at all.

In an interview with Buckley that was recorded on September 6, 1980 in his home in Sussex England, Muggeridge said the following to Buckley: “Bill, looking back on one’s life, it’s one of the things that strikes you forcibly – that the only thing that’s taught one anything is suffering, not success, not happiness, not anything like that. The only thing that really teaches one what life’s about – the joy of understanding, the joy of coming in contact with what life really signifies – is suffering, is affliction. And it is the Cross more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ.”

When the vicissitudes of life and the unexpected visits of suffering knock on our door again, remember the Irish saying containing perhaps the most important lesson to learn, “go into your heart where you have hidden the word of God, and send faith to answer the door,” because it’s always going to be something waiting there wanting to get in. It will come in unexpected ways and at the most inopportune times. Of that you can be certain!

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