Count your blessings
Hi Father Danny,
Father, I am originally from Pampanga, but have been living in Italy the last 16 years. I’ve always been a good catholic. I have never failed attending Sunday mass, I actually go to church a couple of times a week. I have always helped my family back in the Philippines, and my friends whenever they need me. I also help in charities and other church activities to help our less fortunate kababayans here, and I also help the poor in the Philippines.
7 years ago, my husband and I lost our only child Giuseppe, who was then only 8 years old. He died of cancer. After Giuseppe passed away life became meaningless, I could not go to work for months, which resulted in me losing my job. With the help of my friends and by seeking shelter in the Bible, I managed to get back on my feet again.
I tried to get pregnant again, but after 2 years we gave up. I was too old to get pregnant, I believe. We then decided to adopt a child from an orphanage in my hometown in the Philippines. We brought Jessica to Italy 4 years ago. She was then 4 years old. Jessica gave our life a new start. And soon with her being a happy and joyful girl we felt that she is a God given gift to us. A gift to heal the wounds after losing Giuseppe. We love her more than anything in life. 4 months ago, she started complaining about tummy pain. She started to get tired very fast, and did not want to play with her friends anymore. Our Jessica was not the happy girl anymore. We consulted her doctor, who asked us to do some medical tests, which then showed Jessica was suffering from diabetics.
Father, I have started to doubt my faith and God for everything that has happened to me. My friends are telling me that I am being tested by God. I don’t know if that is true. Why does God need to test me like this. What have my children done to be part of this test. Why me? As I said, I have always been a good catholic, why does he need to test me further?
Please help me father, I have stopped going to church -I do not see the reason why I should pray when all I receive are misfortunes.
Thank you father,
I remember being one of the naughtiest boys in our class during my elementary years. Just recently I was invited to be the guest speaker at the commencement exercises in my old school. There I met my teacher in grade school. She refreshed my memory and narrated that I was such a pain on her neck that i even successfully managed to make her cry. Its amazing she said that I am a priest now, ironical indeed.
Dennis the Menace was one of my favorite comic character.
Though i didnt get the spanking from my parents or teachers, i had my own share of displining from them.
I still remember our teachers usually scold or punish us ( I had a barkada or couple of friends who were equally naughty as I was), when we are already sulking and crying our teachers would soothe and appease us and tell us that “we punish you because we love you”. But at that early age I could not reconcile love and punishment, how could someone love and punish me at the same time. I found what our teachers were saying to be utterly ridiculous. It is only now that I realise that our teacher indeed love us because if she did not correct us in our early misdemeanours we could have grown up delinquents.
Tests to purify and make you stronger. Yes you might be right these could be tests, but you see when we encounter misfortunes it does not mean that God does not love us or has forsaken us, but sometimes we are given tests so we would be purified and be ready for even bigger battles in life and also to prepare us for the next life.
As with my example of my childhood days, my teacher didn’t think whether it would upset me if she would tell me off or punish me but she was rather thinking that she didn’t want me to turn out to be a irresponsible person or a derelict.
Like this innocent little girl always remember to count your blessings
More blessings than misfortunes. Going over your letter I can see that you have received a lot more blessings than ‘misfortunes’. To be exact you have mentioned 9 blessings and 4 misfortunes. Let’s look at the adversities you have encountered. First you lost your son Giuseppe, then you lost your job, then you discovered you were too old to get pregnant and then your Jessica got sick. Now let me point out your blessings.
1. You are in Italy living comfortably. You know for a fact how many people not only Filipinos would like to live and work in Europe, that they would give up and sell almost anything to be where you are.
2. You have a loving and supportive husband. Even if you don’t mention it one can conclude that you are gifted with a loving husband or else you would never be able to send money to your family in the Philippines – I have known lots of Filipinas who got divorced from their non Filipino husbands because they sent money to their ailing mother in the Philippines, even if the money sent was from the earnings of the Filipina.
3. You are able to go to church regularly. Do you know how many people in the world have to risk their lives just to be able to profess their religion? Filipinos working in other non Christian countries that risk their lives by just possessing a rosary in their pockets.
4. You are blessed materially. You seem to have the material needs you require. I need not mention here how many are living below the poverty line in the Philippines or the world. How many have to lose their dignity just to eat.
5. You are able to help family and friends. Because of your affluence you can afford to help your family and friends when they are in need. This gives you satisfaction, peace and comfort not to mention pride that you make a difference in the lives of people that you care about.
6. You have good friends. You do have genuine friends, not fair weather friends. They knew what you were going through and helped you through your difficulties after losing your son. Good friends are very important in life, to have them is a treasure we should never take for granted.
7. You took charge of your life and bounced back after losing your son. For many couples losing a child could mean a dramatic change in their relationship, simply because one or both cannot accept their loss. You are blessed to have your marriage intact.
8. You succeeded to adopt Jessica. In most European countries there are income and age requirements to be able to adopt a child. Being able to qualify to be the parents of Jessica is something you should be thankful most especially since she has brought so much joy to you and your husband.
9. You managed to bring Jessica from the Philippines to Italy. I know of many couples who are going through lots of legal difficulties to bring the adoptive child to their countries. Difficulties they encounter bring the child out of the Philippines and bring the child into their own country.
These are just the graces I see from those that you have mentioned in your letter, graces that you have received and continue to receive. I believe if you truly take time and think about your life you would see more. A lot more that you have overlooked or taken for granted.
You see it is human nature to fret and think that we are the most unfortunate being on earth, when something bad happens to us or to our loved ones. We are fully convinced that everybody else’s problems are a lot better than ours. We feel that we have been deprived with everything, that we forget the graces we get everyday. When you feel you are feeling down, count your blessings.
True test of faith. God is indeed is testing you because faith cannot be simply proven by going to church, giving to charity etc. rather the truest measurement of ones faith are those darkest and lowest moments of our life when you have nothing to hang on to but God. For many people that is the time they question the existence of God. That actually is the time when you have more reason to pray more. You need God for enlightenment, strength, guidance, direction, hope. You know that the best prayers are made of moans and groans.
The airplane mishap last week in Davao airport
In a detailed narrative of one of the passengers of the Cebu Pacific flight that landed outside the runway of the Davao airport last week, he said that their ordeal “it was Jesus’ name that was called upon by all passengers. And it was the sincerest and sweetest ‘Thank you’ that was uttered the moment the plane came to rest” This reflects total surrender to God. We don’t need to be in an airplane mishap to experience this. In your case it is what you are going through now, that tests your faith in God. How you would react to adversities in life defines who and what is God in your life.
Its not all about you. I think Jessica needs you more than you need her. And I think she is very lucky that you came to adopt her and come to her life. You see, not everything is about you, you might not know it but the child needs you, you are a blessing to her, if she went to another parent would she be taken cared of like you are doing? If she was not adopted at all would her medical needs, love and attention be provided like you do now? You might not realize it but this God talking to you. God chose you to take care of this child and not only for Jessica to take care of you by giving you joy in your time of sorrow when you lost your son.
I leave you with this song from Jose Mari Chan (originally words and music by Irving Berlin) about counting our blessings. When you are feeling down as if you are at the end of the rope, remember the lyrics of this song or better yet sing along with him. It would make you feel better.
Remember God loves you !