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My Life's Motto
I grew up in Beirut, the oldest of three sisters in my family.
Our house was a forty-five-minute walk from the closest Armenian
Church. On Sunday mornings, my mother had to stay home with the
younger children, so she sent me alone to Sunday School. I was
required to recount that morning's lesson to my mother and sisters
when I returned home. In order not to forget what the Sunday
School teacher had said that day, I would repeat the lesson story
over and over again while walking home through the streets of
One Sunday the story was about a pharmacist and his best friend.
The two friends agreed in everything except religion. The pharmacist
did not believe in God. His best friend did. One day the pharmacist's
best friend had to move to another city. Before he left he took
his friend aside and said, "I know you don't believe in
God, but, if you find yourself in trouble, promise me that you
will fall to your knees and ask for His help. I know He will
help you." The pharmacist laughed and bid his friend good-bye.
In the village where the pharmacist had his shop lived a widow
who washed clothes for a living. She worked hard and was very
poor. One day she fell sick. The neighbors collected enough money
to pay for a doctor to visit her. He prescribed some medicine.
He instructed the woman's young daughter to take the prescription
to the pharmacy that our pharmacist owned and to return as quickly
as possible, or her mother might die.
The little girl did as she was told, but, as the pharmacist was
putting away the ingredients he had mixed together for her mother,
he discovered that he had mixed the wrong ingredients together
and the potion he had given the little girl would kill the patient.
Panicked, he raced out of the store and searched the nearby streets
for the little girl. He looked everywhere for her. He asked everybody.
No one had seen her. Exhausted and very upset, he walked back
to the store. As he was walking he remembered his best friend's
parting words. He didn't believe, but he was desperate. So at
the back of the store near the sofa where he laid down at noon,
he lowered himself to his knees and said, "God, please show
me you exist and help me."
As he was praying, there was a knock on the door. The police
are here to take me away, he thought, but when he opened the
door he found the little girl standing there, crying. In her
hurry to take the medicine home, she had fallen down, broken
the bottle, and injured her hand. She begged the pharmacist to
replace the medicine, knowing that she did not have the money
to pay for it.
The pharmacist was more than a little relieved to see the girl
and to hear how she had spilled the wrongly mixed potion. He
attended to her hand, mixed the proper medication, and sent the
girl home, knowing that God had answered his prayers and come
to his rescue.
The Sunday School teacher who told me the story that morning
had said the lesson of the story was that, if you ask for God's
help, He will help you. But as I repeated the story to myself
on my long walk home from church that day, I began to ask myself
how would I have felt and what would I have done if I had been
that little girl?
If I had been the one to fall and spill my mother's precious
medicine, I would have been very upset with God. Already I would
have been angry that my father had died, but, on top of that
pain, because I fell and broke the medicine bottle, my mother
might die too. In addition, I thought how unfair it would seem
that I had hurt my hand, and to make matters worse I would then
be faced with having to beg the pharmacist to replace the medication
Putting myself into the little girl's shoes made me realize that
she did not know the whole story. She had no idea that she was
being used as a tool to bring the pharmacist into faith. It suddenly
hit me how in every bad thing that happens from my perspective,
there may be a hidden good that has also happened which I may
never realize or see. That understanding became the motto of
my life. When bad things happen to me, and I begin to complain
to God, I stop and I remind myself of the lesson I learned that
day-In every bad happening there is something good hidden.
Cecil Keshishian, Los Angeles, California
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