Jesus trained to be a carpenter under his earthly father, Joseph, and probably practiced the trade until he was twenty-nine. Some years ago, when I was in Israel, I had a chance to visit the excavated ruins of the once-bustling town of Tzippori or Sepphoris, which was likely the place where Joseph and Jesus practiced their trade. There, I saw the remains of houses from the first century and often wondered, “Did Jesus and Joseph help build this house?”
I noticed something, though. The houses in that town were not built of wood, but of stone. Jesus was likely not only a carpenter, but a stonemason. In that capacity he would take the hard and heavy boulders chiseled from the earth and form them into buildings, dwelling places, shops and tools. He brought good gifts from lifeless stones. He can do the same thing in our lives—he can take those hard places, those boulders that seem at first glance to get in our way, and he can do something with them. He does this little by little, day by day, whenever we place our stones (adversities, hurts, etc.) in his hands.
One of those great prayers about dealing with the boulders in our lives was written in 1934 by the great protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Most people know the prayer from AA:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace, taking as he did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that he will make all things right if I surrender to his will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with him forever and ever in the next.
This post is adapted from my brand-new book, Forgiveness.