By Roshan Shah, New age Islam
17 November 2018
In many religious traditions, a rosary—a string of beads—is recommended as a tool to help us remember God. A wonderful way of thinking of our life itself is as a rosary: I owe this insight to a man of God whom I have been fortunate to know. Each major event in or phase of our life, I learnt from him, can be thought of as a bead in the rosary of our life. The thread that connects the beads and brings them together to form a beautiful rosary is God—God’s presence, love, care and providence.
We often ignore the thread in the rosary while counting the beads, but it is there all along, keeping the beads together. In the same way, God is always there with us, guiding us along, even if and when we forget Him.
Without a thread that brings them together, the individual beads of a rosary are disjointed and serve no useful function. But when a thread strings them together, they form something beautiful. In the same way, if we leave God out of the picture, the events of our life can seem random, unrelated, and even chaotic, meaningless and absurd. But when we discern the thread that is God that underlies and knits the events of our life together—the ‘ups’ and the ‘downs’—we discover that they were all part of a beautiful picture. We can then recognise our lives as meaningful and significant. Even what we might have once thought of as breakdowns we come to recognise as breakthroughs. Seeing such events in our life in this way, we come to see ourselves as victors, no longer thinking of ourselves as victims. The challenges we have faced throughout now come to be seen as a necessary part of our life’s journey. Just as a seed must burst out of its skin in order to emerge as a plant, when we come to discern the hand of God connecting the various significant events and phases of our life, we recognise that the challenges that we have faced were actually indispensable occasions for our growth.
Another insightful simile is that of grammar, which brings together words to form a coherent sentence. Grammar is invisible, but at the same time it is essential for words to make sense when put together. Without proper grammar, words become a meaningless jumble. In the same way, recognising the presence of the invisible God through all the phases of our life provides meaning and purpose to what would otherwise seem totally disjointed and random events—‘sad’ as well as ‘happy’ occasions, troubles as well as triumphs.
Thinking of our life as a rosary in the hands of God, with God as the underlying thread, we can recognise God’s loving presence and guidance at all stages of our life, even in what we may regard as times of great trial and torment. We can now recognise that as the years have passed, in times of both, joy and sorrow, crisis and celebration, the hand of God has always been on our head, protecting and guiding us.
Viewing our life this way can help us discern meaning and purpose in it. It can remind us that God is a living God, who is deeply involved in our lives at every moment, holding our hands and leading us on. There is thus absolutely no reason to despair and every reason to be hopeful, glad and thankful!
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