In the Bible there are numerous scriptures regarding sufferings, and among them St. Paul, who was a disciple of Jesus, said, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. “(Roman 5:3-4)
Recently I watched a documentary of Fumio Demura, a prominent Karate master, who did a stunt of the Japanese Karate teacher in a movie “Karate Kid”. Watching the documentary, I was convinced that suffering indeed strengthens our characters.
Fumio was born in Japan in 1938. Despite of growing up in poverty because he lost his father in his young age, he became a Karate champion in Japan. After then, he desired to come to the U.S., and with a help of an American Karate pioneer, who was looking for his Karate instructor, Fumio did come to CA. yet, with no money, no English, and no family or friends, he struggled: He would sleep in a garage and cry missing Japan. While his outstanding Karate skill gradually drew attentions in the U.S., the legalistic Japanese Karate world criticized him harshly, and eventually expelled him.
Yet, he didn’t give in or give up. Actually each time he faced his trials, he developed his endurance, creativity, humility, gratitude, compassion, earnest, royalty to others, and love for Karate. He established his fame as a Karate master not only in the U.S. but in the world as well, and even won the respect from his master in Japan, who once criticized him.
This is a side note, but it was touching to hear Fumio’s memory of his mother: When her precious little profit was stolen from her small grocery store, she said that whoever had stolen the money, he must have been in need, so now her money was blessing him.
Her statement immediately made me think of the robbers who broke into our house recently. I don’t think they were needy. Even if so, they were perhaps looking for some money not for food but for drugs or whatever indulges them. Yet it is possible that they didn’t grow up in a good happy family. Then I can have compassion to them, pray for them, and forgive them.
Fumio is one of the many who achieved the American dreams, and from the Bible point of view, his trials molded his characters and led him to the hope of the American Dream.
I have my own trials and sufferings to go through. If I think those are opportunities God allowed for me to grow, and if I imagine how I will be when I see God face to face after all, I get strength, hope, and indeed find the joy.