Apr 27, 2016

One of the Hurunui district’s many beautiful places is the reserve in the heart of Hanmer Springs that until 2003 was home to Queen Mary Hospital. In my 4+ years in the Hurunui I have not spent too many nights in Hanmer, but for these recent study days Hanmer has been a great base and ideal place for work, and for morning walks.

This morning as I strolled through the reserve I noticed a plaque on a seat dedicated to one of the hospital’s many respected doctors. The plaque (possibly quoting the doctor) read “all obstacles in life are mere opportunities.”

In a few weeks time the Queen Mary hospital will mark the centenary of its June 1916 foundation. The hospital’s initial purpose was the rehabilitation of soldiers returning from war. In its final decades the facility was well renowned as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. The residents over the decades had one thing in common, they were, like all of us, dealing with obstacles in life.

My problem is that I tend to see life in terms of goals to be achieved and problems to be resolved. I fall victim to a perspective that is narrow and misleading thinking that I will find happiness when I am free of such challenges. In fact when I achieve a goal or solve a problem I experience little more than a fleeting satisfaction before, sometimes within minutes, I’m at a bit of a loss until I grasp at another mission. I am convinced that Augustine was right when he reflected that our hearts remain restless until with God.

Of course the reality is that God is with us in the midst of our struggles. Our deepest desire is not to be free of obstacles and problems, but to know that we are loved in the midst of all that burdens us. Our acknowledged struggles become God’s opportunity to satisfy all of our needs.

This morning’s plaque inspiration was a timely reminder for me: no healthy day is free of obstacles, tensions and challenges, but this is not a problem for God who is with me in every moment and every circumstance.

The circumstances that I am in, however unwanted or unwarranted, are the place where God is working with me leading me to greater human maturity. My happiness and peace are found when I relax in this knowledge, and respond to the opportune nudging of the Spirit of God leading me to love more deeply and to live more fully.


NB: a Food For Faith reader has offered further information about Dr. Jock Sutherland.

I have just read your reference to Dr Jock Sutherland in a recent FFF entry. Hanmer people may well have told you by now, but in case not; Jock was a greatly loved and respected Doctor in Hanmer who was murdered while working with the Red Cross in Karabakh, Pakistan… Jock’s was a death which significantly impacted the entire district and also of course, the Hospital community.



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