When Trials Come

“Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We actually progress by means of trial. We do not know ourselves except through trial…” – Augustine of Hippo

Reading my Book of Common Prayer this morning (A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals), I’m struck by how pertinent these words are. I suppose, on any given day, I can see pain and trials on the horizon; not just in my life, but in those of the folks around me. Extended family, friends, acquaintances, church friends, community members – there are trials aplenty.

Sometimes we act like the bad times are the exception. I have come to believe that the opposite is true.

My father once told me, “When you’re on the mountain top, ride it for all it’s worth. The valley is coming; so enjoy the good times while you can.”

That’s been true in my life. There’s the good, and the joy, and the contented feeling that everything is working just right; and then there’s the pain, the sorrow, the disconnected, broken part.

This slight change in my paradigm – to celebrate the good times, while knowing that the challenges are right around the corner – this has been, I think, the most healthy decision I’ve ever made when it comes to How To Live. It impacts my understanding of God; it undergirds my life as a follower of Christ.

Life is hard. Life’s not fair. God is good.

(Thank you, Jamie Rasmussen.)

I know so many who are challenged by their circumstances right now. I pray for them, daily.

And for myself.

Teach us to trust in you, O Lord: and follow your way to the end.

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5 Comments

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  1. You and Apostle Peter are of the same mindset: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you…” I Peter 4:12 (KJV).

    The topic of our Sun school lesson two days ago was “Faith in Trials,” so this post was very timely. Are you all up in my head again?

    You know, I'm aiming to be like David. My favorite part of the Goliath story is when he says (and I'm paraphrasing): “God delivered me from the lion and the bear; he'll deliver me from the giant.” As my pastor has pointed out, David does this sort of thing over and over again. His remembering and clinging to God's faithfulness, in the past, sets him apart from other characters in the Bible. I want to be more like him. I want to be the type of person who looks back and says: He'll make this ok, b/c look at how He made that and that and THAT ok. Not there, yet. Working on it.

    Love you.

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  2. Brilliant. Some very good words there. I love you and thank god for you every day. – Lisa o

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  3. Very wise words, Beth!

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  4. What your dad told you reminds me of an Oswald Chambers quote I discovered in college that has been pivotal for me since. I'm using it Sunday: We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain…and have wanted to stay there. But God will never allow us to stay there…We are not made for the mountains…We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life.

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  5. I've always been so challenged by the “mountaintop” analogy. Think about it: the mountain top is A SINGLE POINT.

    THERE IS ONLY ONE SUMMIT.

    Everything else is “valley.”

    The sheer amount of time in “the struggle” versus the the time at the summit is staggering.

    It can take weeks to climb Everest, and you only get to spend ABOUT 30 MINUTES.

    Valleys are our reality.

    But then again… I'm definitely an Eeyore. 🙂

    Here's to the good times…

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