Hurts and heartaches vs. blessings and benefits

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
A friend sent this quote my way this week and I have been giving some thought to it.

“Write your hurts and heartaches in the sand.
Carve your blessings and benefits in stone.”

I take it to mean that we are reminded that hurts and heartaches often come into our lives, but they are not permanent. They are usually washed away in time much like the waves wash away whatever we write in the sand. It has become quite fashionable on our beach, and many others, to write things in the sand, such as, “I love you,” “Will you marry me?” and the old initials vowing love forever often enclosed in a big loosely drawn heart. We sometimes see greetings signifying holidays or other memories or messages for family and friends to be seen on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Families and groups take time and build beautiful sand sculptures, but alas, the tide comes in as predicted and wipes them away.

These greetings and our work effort may be pleasant and we enjoy doing the writing and sharing the words or symbols with others. We may even be sad to see the waves washing in from afar taking our work out with them. However, when we look at the above quote and think about this process, we can see the benefit of allowing and wanting our hurts and heartaches to go away with the waves, time, or reconciliation.

A woman called and asked to speak to me one day last week. She wanted to talk about an article I had written and she was quite positive. She said, “I have been reading your column in The Examiner ever since you moved to Texas and started writing for them.” She added that she always looked for my column first and turned to read it before she checked out the rest of the newspaper. Those kinds of statements are always reassuring to any writer.

She went on to say she did not get a subscription any longer delivered to her apartment, but that she went to a particular box and bought one each week. As we chatted, I realized she was very lonely and had suffered some health problems as well as hurts and heartaches in the past. I think perhaps she needed a friend and I was happy to spend some time with her. After she had been speaking for several minutes, it dawned on me that she was speaking of events that happened a long time ago and that some of the parties were no longer living. I tried to encourage her to put those things in her past and go on with her life reaching out to the family and friends she had left. And, I reminded her she could make new friends. She had, apparently, not written her hurts and heartaches in the sand and they were still hindering her current life.

As long as these painful memories were being rehearsed and relived, she would suffer from them. And, I fear, other memories of her family were suffering, too. It would be good for all if they could be resolved and everyone go on with their lives.

On the other hand, when we stop to think and remember all of the good things we have in our lives, it is good if those blessings and benefits are carved in stone. We want to think on the good things God has done for us and we want not only to remember them for ourselves, but for our family members and friends, too. If they are carved in stone, even in our memories and hearts, we can call them up, pull them out, and remember the victory, the cleansing, the healing, the unexpected blessing of God on our life.

One of my favorite Bible stories to teach is found in Joshua 4:1-9. It was time for the changing of the guard as it were. Moses was gone and Joshua was the new leader. Could he do it? Would he be strong enough? Would these people follow him? After all, he had some big shoes to fill. The children of Israel had come to the Jordan River at a time when it was a churning, tumbling, and muddy torrent of water. Had God brought them there to perish or could they cross it safely under Joshua’s leadership? If you know the story, you know God did indeed stop the flow of the river and the more than two million walked over on the dry riverbed. One strong man in each tribe was instructed to find and bring one large stone. That must have been some super he-man contest.

The question arose, “What do these stones mean?” When they settled and built their altar out of these stones, Joshua answered them clearly, “Tell your children that these stones remind us all of the goodness and care of God. It is a memorial to Him for all that He has done for us.” Each of us need to look at the benefits and blessings that God has already shown in our lives and depend on Him to keep us safe for all eternity. May we have those good things carved in stone.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or


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