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Read Letter

Trial Upon Trial

My dear Jil, life is full of trials. We all go through our fair share of trials. And yet you’ve been such a brave young woman. You’ve passed through what most can’t imagine or contemplate. You’ve experienced things that defy definition, or even explanation. It’s almost as if you’ve lived three lifetimes judging by the quantum of your experiences. And each challenge life has thrown at you, you’ve somehow punched down, even in utter weakness. Who knew you were so strong! One by one you beat the odds.One by one they faded away. Though it must be said that it sometimes felt like the problems went away to recruit more virulent associates. Explains why a subsequent challenge feels tougher than the preceding. But here you are still standing, still believing, still hopeful, full of faith. You’re so, so courageous! That has got to take inner strength, the type you never knew you had, that nobody knew you had.

Trials bring us out of us – the real us, the courageous us, the determined us, the strong us, the hidden us. Sometimes life throws things at us, not one item at a time but the entire kitchen sink with its full content. It is at those moments we feel sorry for ourselves, wondering what we’ve done to deserve such punishment and trial. “Why me?” we ask, and life in utter sarcasm returns, “Why not you?”

There are different challenges in life. For some people, it’s a sickness – a disorder, cancer or some other malevolent foe. For others, it’s marital discord. For some others it’s economic, or a family situation. Yet for some, it’s a death. The historic Job went through horrendous trials, and in quick succession – like the rapidity of machine gun fire. He it was who said through it all, “After he (God) has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Those are heroic words.

There just comes that time for some when everything seems to be happening at once. Everywhere there seems to be trouble, so much so we begin to anticipate troubles. And some have panic attacks. Life by itself, and without consulting us chooses some of us as endurance test candidates. And endure we must. The trials of life can be so great that we can be tempted to give up. Many give up. But you haven’t and you shouldn’t. After He has tried you, you shall come forth as gold.

We don’t know why some of us experience unimaginable trials. Life being the invigilator refuses to give us answers. It’s why we feel so alone, why life feels so vast and we seem to have no coordinates. We’re alone in this huge field of human experience. And the world doesn’t know what we’re going through. Even if the world knows, what does it matter, or why would it matter. We pass through crucibles alone. Trial is a customized private experience. And so we never really know why WE go through trials – why us in particular and not the other person. All we can ever know is God’s comfort and explanation. All we can ever know is His assurance, his love.

As I think of you, an imagery comes to mind. I see Paul on that ship, shackled, on his way to trial. And then a trial arose on his way to trial. The storms began. We never really see the story that way, but trial can mount upon trial, seeking to engulf us. But Paul said, God sent assurances right in the midst of the storm. May this letter be an assurance to you. Though trials may mount upon trials; and though trials may proceed from trials, yet God will not abandon you. In this world we will have tribulation is the promise of the Holy Script. But we will overcome is the second assurance. When we pass through the flames, God promised we will not be set ablaze. When we pass through floods, He said we will not drown. You will not drown in this sea of trouble. You will not perish. You will not be consumed.

Do not fear. God has not written you off and He won’t write you off. It is not in the character of God to abandon the distressed. He is the Good Samaritan. He is the father of the fatherless, the husband to the widow, the help of the helpless. He’s been with you all these years. He’ll never abandon you, never forsake you. God is not a politician, a fair weather friend who associates with you according to the whims of fortune. Look back over your shoulders at the years gone by. Look back on his benevolence and his tender mercies. So be strong. You will beat this too. This too shall pass. Trials are the pruning forks of life. There is an assurance of a future in a trial. Or why would we be pruned?

As I think about what you’ve been through, I shake my head in wonder at the sheer grace of your courage. Courage is grace under pressure, Hemingway said. And how graceful you have been! Perhaps tomorrow the reason for this trial will become apparent. Perhaps. And perhaps not! It really doesn’t matter. What matters is, you overcame. And you will overcome.

Never compare your life with others. Everyone has his or her own programme. And some of the people we admire have paid an awful price for the grace we see. You have this one life. Live it even in the midst of the trials. Continue to do good, helping those YOU can. That is a tall order I agree. Yet it is a dimension of faith. You sow good into the lives of others and you will reap good. There will of course be moments of doubt, moments of fear. After the doubts and the fears, let faith rise in your heart. Hope for the best. God specializes in impossible cases. The sun will rise again, despite the weather report on cable news network of human gist. You will have a testimonial. Then you can encourage others with the comfort wherewith you have been comforted.

I am particularly encouraged by the love and steadfastness of your husband. He is undergoing his own trials. Sometimes we suffer collateral damage from the trials of others. Your trial is his trial. And may God uphold you both. The day of your testimony… that day will come.

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder |


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