One day Mister Rogers (of children’s television fame) was visiting California and decided to visit a teenager with cerebral palsy.
At first the boy did not know how to react and began hitting himself in anger. His mother took him out of the room. When he returned Mister Rogers said, “I would like you to do something for me. Would you do something for me?” Through the use of his computer, the boy answered yes. So Mister Rogers asked: “I would like you to pray for me. Will you pray for me?”
Author Wendy Murray Zoba writes: “.. the boy was “thunderstruck” because “nobody had ever asked him for something like that, ever. The boy had always been prayed for. The boy had always been the object of prayer, and now he was being asked to pray for Mister Rogers, and although at first he didn’t know if he could do it, he said he would, he said he’d try, and ever since then he keeps Mister Rogers in his prayers and doesn’t talk about wanting to die anymore because he figures Mister Rogers is close to God, and if Mister Rogers likes him, that must mean God likes him, too.”
Mister Rogers was asked how he knew what to say to make the boy feel better. He responded: “Oh, heavens no, Tom! I didn’t ask him for his prayers for him; I asked for me. I asked him because I think that anyone who has gone through challenges like that must be very close to God. I asked him because I wanted his intercession.” (Wendy Murray Zoba, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Christianity Today, March 6, 2000, p. 45.)
Mister Rogers (as I suspected since I was two) is a very wise man. He knows that those that have experienced adversity often grow spiritually as a result. James put it this way: “…the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
We may never want to enroll in Adversity University… yet we often have no choice. Might as well complete the course work… finding in the end maturity and completeness in Him.