A middle aged man who had a consistently sad look on his face attended a class on happiness. He challenged the Rabbi who spoke about being grateful for the good in our lives, "That's fine and well for younger people who have hope for a good life of abundance and accomplishment. They have a lot to look forward to. They have their health and have the energy to accomplish. But what about someone whose life is closer to the end than to the beginning? What about a person who faces daily challenges?"
"How have you developed as a person from the difficulties that you've experience in life? How have you developed into a more mature person and a deeper thinker because of your challenges? How have you gained from what you've experienced that you wouldn't have gained if you were to have an easy life of leisure?"
The person went on to say that his intellectual understanding of the purpose of life is much more profound and comprehensive than if he would have had an easy life. He has gained much wisdom from his life experiences. He has realized strongly that our purpose in life is not just to live a superficial life of pleasure. Life has a spiritual dimension that is really the purpose of our lives.
"Are you grateful for having gained this wisdom and depth?"
"I certainly am," he replied.
"That is what is meant by being grateful for challenges. It's not that you wanted to suffer. But that you are grateful for what you've gained spiritually and intellectually."
"This does make sense to me," the man acknowledged.
(From Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's book: THANK YOU! Gratitude: Formulas, Stories, and Insights: Artscroll Publishers)