This Month’s Message: Challenging Homework

Oyasama once said to a follower:

“The path ahead of you is long. No matter what you may encounter, do not become discouraged in faith. The future is all well.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 68

Imagine attending a mathematics class where your teacher is showing how to solve a certain type of problem. It looks simple and easy. Then your teacher gives you similar problems to solve at home. As soon as you start trying to work them out, you run into a snag and think to yourself: “Wait a minute. How was this problem supposed to be solved?” You are forced to realize that, although everything looked easy in class, you did not really understand how to solve this type of problem. You put your mind to the task and keep working until late at night. When, after much trial and error, you have finally managed to solve the problems, you have significantly strengthened your ability to apply knowledge and skills. In fact, what your teacher wanted you to do is not so much to produce the correct answers as to make the effort to find the answers.

Likewise, God the Parent seems to assign homework—of all kinds—to us. It is not sufficient for us humans to simply be taught the answers by God. From time to time, we need to rack our brains trying to deal with our problems in order to grow as a person. Just as a teacher gives homework to reinforce skills and learning, so does God provide homework to help us grow and develop to our full potential. It is worth remembering that God is certainly not trying to make us suffer.

Being all-seeing and all-knowing, God gives us homework tasks that are designed to address appropriate issues at appropriate times with pin-point accuracy. Our issues may include illnesses, accidents, problems in the workplace, and relationships with our spouses or children. The tasks provided might be very challenging for us because they are the right ones for us.

If we do not see our assigned tasks in such a light, however, we may wonder why we have to deal with them. We may even feel overwhelmed by our tasks and let our spirits fall. Unable to talk to anyone about our situation, we might keep things to ourselves.

Yet surely there is no one in this world who does not have any homework at all.

The homework we are given is precisely what we most need to do and is the most appropriate work for us to perform; in this sense, we cannot have someone else do it for us.

Some of our homework tasks are harder than others. Some may take years to solve and can be complicated. There may be a task that takes an entire lifetime to complete. As long as we are alive, we probably have some homework to do. When there is no more homework for us, we may have no role to play in this world.

If we give up in the middle, we will be losers. Being our Parent, God is relentless in trying to help us. It does not matter if we cannot achieve the total completion of our task. The important thing is to continue making diligent efforts instead of giving up. That is what God wants us to do.

The challenging task facing us should not be dismissed as “a misfortune” or “just one of life’s problems.” It is, as it were, the best training for us. It has been carefully crafted by God to help support the growth of virtue within us so that we may shine brightly. We can thus look forward to what lies ahead.

“The path ahead of you is long,” says God. These words can speak to our hearts.

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