My Dear Friend

I, Maria, a fellow believer, called by Christ to be an ambassador and servant of the New Covenant, write this letter to encourage you and offer a perspective about the trial you are undergoing.  I have prayed for you for years.  Usually I have begged God to remove the trial.  But just this week, I have heard a different message about trials and now want to pass this on to you.  It is shaping how I am praying for you.

First I read J.I. Packer discuss trials in the context of the sanctification process. Trials are not to be feared, because we have the assurance that we are well loved since we have been adopted and given the full status and benefits accompanying son-ship.  Our status is not in question when we are tried, tested and undergo rigorous lessons in the Spirit-led school house. Rather, trials are the means by which our characters are transformed to be more like our older brother.  Packer writes, “God wants his children, whom he loves, to bear his character, and he takes action accordingly.”

Next I heard Mark Dever admit that he was a weak and immature pastor in the way he has prayed for his parishioners in the past.  Now instead of just asking God to remove trials, he focuses more on the gains to them from this time in the furnace.  He still prays for release from disease, joblessness, relationship pain but also prays for much more.  He sees the positive purpose of trials. (This way of praying reminds me of John Piper praying that his cancer NOT be wasted).

Finally, I was listening to Joni Erikson Tada’s musings about rose petals.  When crushed between two fingers, they release sweet fragrances.  She was mentioning this in the context of battling a recent lung infection on top of her quadriplegia and breast cancer.  She was attempting to deal rightly with suffering upon suffering in a way that was biblical.  She admitted that she doesn’t understand the ‘whys and wherefores’ of all of her struggles and medical setbacks, but fights to trust the one through whose hands all things come filtered for our good and His glory.

So dear friend, please know that I continue to pray night and day for you that:

  • God would comfort you and be with you through this suffering he has chosen for you
  • This trial would remove all idols from your life, those things which we love and ‘have to have’ more than God
  • That you would embrace it and go through the Valley without fear, knowing that Jesus is with you
  • That you would KNOW without a doubt that what God has given you already IS ENOUGH (a restored relationship with Him and real hope for uninterrupted life and future glory)

You might react with scorn:, “Easy enough for you to say, Maria!  What you call this short and fleeting life feels oppressive and I’m tired.  I just want to lie down and be done with the suffering.”   But remember something, dear one.  Since I love and care for you, I suffer too.  Love always bears the pain of the other.  So to you and to me I say,  let us “Take courage, fear not, behold our God!”   (Is 35:4)  And in beholding, may we become like Him.