My husband and I finished reading a book from The Lamplighter Collection called The Basket of Flowers (1768) by Christoph von Schmid. The story tells of a devout Christian widower and his young daughter who get falsely accused of a crime. As they are banished from their homeland and face subsequent hardships and trials, the father instructs his child, Mary, to look to the Lord who is her faithful protector and guide. As we worked our way through the book I tried to let the wise words of Mary’s father sink into my own heart. The book made me reflect on my relationships with my heavenly father and my earthly father. I was reminded again how suffering and trials are not always explainable yet God allows them to take place and even uses them—somehow—for His glory and our good.
This fall my family remembered the 10th anniversary of my dad’s sudden passing. I have many splendid memories with my father but I do sense that I missed out on gleaning wisdom from him like Mary did with her father. However, there is comfort in knowing that what I missed with my earthly father I have every opportunity to learn from my heavenly father.
I can only thank God for His work in my life well before this incident. He was growing me closer to Him through other struggles, even as a child. So when I heard the news of my dad’s tragic death as a 16-year-old, it was God’s faithfulness that flashed through my mind like a split second movie. In those moments my subconscious was aware of my options to turn to academics, friends, money, alcohol, boys, sports, etc. for comfort yet I knew that God was the only One who would give me the peace and joy I needed. Why? He had proved Himself faithful. And He would continue to be faithful.
This is a milestone experience for me of God’s faithfulness alive in my life. God has answered my prayers by giving me what I asked for: Himself.
The words of James come to mind as encouragement for us all. The various trials we face are opportunity for testing and growing our faith. In turn, our faith impacts our perseverance, holiness, and faithfulness.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything,” James 1:2-4 NIV.
The struggles of a pastor’s wife (or any adult) have some different temptations than those of a teenage girl. In the shock or pain of suffering maybe we would be drawn to perfectionism, our kids, our jobs, material wealth, personal interests, or depression. On this earth, suffering and trials are unavoidable but with each challenge comes a fork in the road where we must make a choice. Will we run away from God? Or will we pursue Him even further?
Let me finish by encouraging you with a verse I noticed for the first time from 1 Peter. See the connections between suffering and faithfulness. Its emphasis is on God’s faithfulness towards us but the verse also comments on the role that faithfulness plays as a response to Him during our suffering.
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good,” 1 Peter 4:19.
Lord, in my present and future suffering may I recall Your bountiful faithfulness towards me. I entrust my soul to You and ask for help that the trials I face might produce more faithfulness in me. Amen.
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