Have you ever asked yourself the question, "Why does life have to be so hard?" No matter our race or creed, adversity is imminent - if not already in plain view. It's just a fact of life. Challenges come in many different forms. 

For some it could be the death of a loved one, personal addiction, or the abuse of a beloved child. For others, it may be in the form of mental illness or a physical impairment. With that said, challenges don't have to be debilitating to us and those we love. If seen through the right lens, adversity can in fact be the source of some of our greatest triumphs and joys in life.

In the book Kitchen Table Wisdom by Dr. Rachel Remen, she shares an inspiring story of a young man who, though
presented with a major challenge, was able to learn and even benefit from  adversity - his challenging experience being the primary reason he was able to develop the selflessness and charity to touch the lives of many others around him. 

Before his diagnosis of osteogenic sarcoma, this young man (who we'll call Jeff) had been a high school and college athlete. Nice cars, attractive women, and popularity were all part of his life. But two weeks after his diagnosis, his right leg had to be removed and while the surgery ended up being life-saving, in his mind, his life had ended. Jeff became very angry and bitter. He started taking drugs, drinking heavily, and soon alienated himself from old friends and associates.

As a result of these things, he was referred by a former coach to Dr. Remen. In their first session, it became clear that Jeff harbored a great deal of resentment toward doctors and especially healthy people. To encourage openness, Dr. Remen invited him to draw a picture of his body. He proceeded to angrily draw a vase with a large, black crack down the middle - ripping the paper in the process. When Jeff left, Dr. Remen kept it, thinking it too important to throw away.

On later visits, Jeff started bringing newspaper clippings of people who had been permanently deformed in accidents. While he was still angry, Dr. Remen saw him slowly coming out of himself and becoming concerned for others' welfare. Soon, he began going to visit patients in surgical wards whose problems were like his and he found that he had great success connecting with many of these individuals, even when others couldn't. Doctors started asking him to come and visit specific patients because of the positive influence which he had on them. It became "a sort of ministry" for him.

One day he went to visit a young woman of 21 years who, as a preventative measure, had had both breasts removed because of a tragic family history with breast cancer. In spite of great attempts to cheer her, the young woman was so depressed she wouldn't even so much as look up at Jeff from her hospital bed. Finally, in desperation Jeff tore his artificial leg off and let it drop to the floor with a thump. Startled, she looked up and he starting hopping around the room and snapping his fingers to some music - laughing as he did so. After a while, she busted up laughing, too. "Fella," she said, "If you can dance, maybe I can sing." Some time later they started visiting people together and were eventually married.

In Jeff's final meeting with Dr. Remen, she drew out the picture of the cracked vase he'd drawn over two years before. After studying if for some time he said, "You know, it's really not finished" and then with a crayon in hand, Jeff started to draw bright yellow lines bursting from the crack. Dr. Remen watched the smiling man somewhat puzzled. When Jeff finished, he looked up and said,  "This is where the light comes through."

This story brings to mind to the process which carbon has to undergo to become a diamond. It is only after millions of years of intense pressure and heat that a mere rock can become one of these precious and beautiful gems.

Interestingly, it is because of this extreme process that diamonds are virtually indestructible.There is something truly inspiring, uplifting, and healing in this concept. Not one of us will pass through this life without adversity and yet how wonderful is the thought that it's not in spite of, but often because of adversity that we can more fully reach our innate potential. Some of us may be content to remain rocks, but I believe there is a grander plan for each of us - all of us are diamonds in the making.

Without a doubt, we don't wish tragedy on ourselves or those we love, but if we can approach life's challenges with a sense of hope and determination, these trials can become a key source of strength and learning to us; a tool to help expand our circle of influence so that we may be a great blessing in the lives of our fellow men. It is in this service that we find our purest joy.

When you find yourself struggling in the midst of adversity, remember that it's through the cracks that your light can more fully shine.