Processing Trials – aka membership in the ‘Pure Joy’ Club

1 Comment

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”

The timing was breathtaking:

  • another cat with failing health
  • another closed door session with my principal about my teaching

This was one of those déjà vu experiences.

In October, I wrote about the decision to euthanize a deteriorating OLD cat, Leia.  The Friday before that final appointment with the vet, I was confronted for the 2nd time in 6 weeks with a list of parent complaints about my teaching and relationships with students in my new school.  I was crushed.  And dumb-founded. I have always enjoyed mutually happy connections with students and parents in the previous 21 years.

My reaction at first was to want a way out.  (All this pushback PLUS 110 minutes a day commuting!!!) But I accepted this as a trial and prayed for my students and their perceptions of me with new vigor.  My husband and some close Christian friends also promised to pray.  By the time Christmas break came, I was feeling content with my new school and thinking about the possibility of staying on if they offered me a contract in the spring.

Then Calvin, one of a pair of 8 year-old cats who had moved down with us in June, abruptly became paralyzed in the space of 3 days.

(Calvin is on the left of Luther)

Calvin and Luther asleep with each other - July 09We had almost lost him 10 months earlier in Virginia.  He had fortunately recovered and we were NOT expecting another bout of illness.  And  what followed his sudden lapse was almost humorous given the precedent. Another counseling session at school regarding parent complaints!!!! This time my Christianity and conservative political views were mentioned as possibly making parents less likely to enroll their children in middle school French next year. (I don’t evangelize at school, but I don’t hide my faith.  And I’ve had five letters to the editor published in the city newspaper)

THIS time, I didn’t crumble!

What encouragement!  I have real proof  that I have grown spiritually since October.

Driving home last Monday to a dying Calvin and a husband waiting to learn the outcome of my tête-à-tête with the principal, I  felt peaceful.  My identity and well-being are NOT dependent on my cats’ health or what my boss thinks of me. I belong to Christ.  I have the essentials – the approval and presence of God.  My eternal future has not changed in the least because of these very painful circumstances.

But here’s the point –  I wouldn’t have known the ACTUAL state of what I believe had it not been for these recent trials.

No one wants trials.  We all seek comfort, if we’re honest. But what I have gained through these parallel trials, 3 months apart, is the assurance that God is working IN me to give me what I am missing.

A final point about God’s perfect timing.  I had in the week running up to this eventful Monday listened to 2 sermons on the book of James via podcast.  My friend, Tom Kenney, had stressed that trials are planned by God to complete us, to give us all that we are lacking so that we are perfect and spiritually mature.  And also as God would have it, I had just started some French memory work in the very same book.  Little did I know how much  I was being fortified FOR these trials.

God is so good, it blows me away!

Question: How have you been gifted through a trial?

It’s good to be weak



Like Paul, I have prayed that God would remove certain difficulties.

This week, I took a baby step in imitating Paul when he confessed:

I will say this: because these experiences I had were so tremendous, God was afraid I might be puffed up by them; so I was given a physical condition which has been a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to hurt and bother me and prick my pride. Three different times I begged God to make me well again.

Each time he said, No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.” Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities. 10 Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite happy about “the thorn,” and about insults and hardships, persecutions and difficulties; for when I am weak, then I am strong—the less I have, the more I depend on him.  (2 Cor 12: 7 to 10)

  • As Leia, our 17 1/2 year old cat was declining, I begged God just to take her life during the night – easily and quietly
  • 2 different times in the first 7 weeks of this school year my new principal has come into my classroom and shut the door.  With good intentions, she has reported some negative feedback received from certain parents about this or that related to my teaching (new school, new kids, new expectations)

A week ago I finally acknowledge that I felt depressed. Cornered.  Meditatively and prayerfully writing last week’s blog post, finding scriptures to cling to was life and light giving.

This week, I chewed on Paul’s words.  I nourished and encouraged myself with the following thought:

  • “His grace is sufficient to make me content that I am weak.  As I lean on Him and trust Him to guide me this class period, as I wait on Him for wisdom about our cat, I know that on the other side of each hour, I will be glad that my acknowledged weakness and dependency created the VOID necessary for Holy-Spirit-Power to rush in.  No space……. no divine help.  Lord, keep me dependent on You!”

So now it’s Sunday, a week later.

Leia close up on 7 Oct 2013

Leia is buried beneath our balcony overlooking the gorgeous hills of Western North Carolina.

I taught kids more French, trusting Him to help me to adjust to their needs and the expectations of my boss.

Do I still wish for a life without suffering?  YES!!!  I’m human, i.e. sinful and weak-willed.

But I will trust Him that His way is best for me.  After all, God alone is the happy Holy Father who has already proven that He loves me.  What more could He do than He has already done by adopting me into His Forever Family?

%d bloggers like this: