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Tested Faith
Witnessed Faith
Heritage or Choice
Service and its Rewards
Armenian Christianity and the World
Armenian Christianity and Survival

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 Beirut.

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 for free.

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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