On Sunday, Adam pulled out a large pile of Bibles from his office for Sunday school, Bibles in various languages and translations. Julia opened a copy of the Greek Septuagint, and there we found a little envelope with a note inside.
My mother wrote the note to Adam on Nov. 1, 2002, a rather bleak time in our lives. With permission from them both, I share her words here:
This note is not so much for you as for me -- to express to you how much I love you and how much you mean to me and so many others. If you cannot read this -- Mary Kathryn can! (My mother's unreadable flowery cursive is a running joke in the family.)
It grieves me so that you must endure this trial -- and for so long. I can be more objective when I hear of the terrible trials of other Christians. I want God to provide the solution for yours NOW. Then I'm reminded of David who suffered so long, so unfairly, the awful trials he endured.
We do cling to the assurance that God has His purpose and it is for good.
I'm preparing the WIC Circle lesson and it is no mere coincidence that I read I Peter 1:6-7. "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested geniuneness of your faith -- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire -- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
We do rejoice that we know God's purpose is not to destroy you -- rather glorify Him. The anchor holds -- and we trust.
And she was right, of course. As the winter of 2002/2003 approached, my life seemed to spiral (again) into a deep darkness. Adam was ill, very ill, and unable to perform his duties at his church job. Later we found that his condition was a common one, a manageable one, a treatable one. He has tinnitus. But like all illnesses, one must get a correct diagnosis before any useful help comes. And until his diagnosis arrived in September of 2003, the outlook for Adam and me was very bleak indeed.
Some of you are in the middle of a long trial. I hope you have precious family and friends who will lift you up. If your trial ends in death, you have the great hope of heaven. If your trial lasts for many years, it will, as Mother reminded us, prove the tested genuineness of your faith. Young Christians always wonder if their faith is real. After a few decades of trials and horrible disappointments, if you still believe, you don't doubt anymore. God has seen you through them, and you know He's there. If you wonder what I mean by "God has seen you through them," you have to know all the hairy, scary, intricate details of how you get taken care of in spite of how horrible life becomes.
In our case, my parents became the primary means of God's taking care of us. Adam lost his job. At a loss for what to do with a husband who could not work, and four young children to raise, I did what any good daughter does; I moved back into my parents' home with my family in tow. There, their church enveloped us with love. There, friends helped me find medical solutions. There, we found a tinnitus clinic. There, Adam spent two years writing sermons. There, I made friends who supported me through every horrible day and squealed with me in delight on the good days that did finally come. There, a loving, wise pastor was so very good to us. It still makes me cry to write this.
It was incredibly painful to have one church home reject us, to feel the hurt and anguish of that. To lose our home. To move in with parents. To watch our children suffer also. To sit and wait. Oh, how God's trials involve waiting! Two years came and went before we were on our own again. Two years of anxiety and fretful trusting. Two years of trying the geniuneness of our faith. I know it was hellish to go through, and how hellish it was for our family and friends to watch.
All of it was preparation, of course. When Adam preaches about suffering, it's not theoretical, and his listeners can tell. Now, the tale of his tinnitus and all its fall-out is just a story, an interesting account. But at the time? What an agony!
One Christian's suffering is not just a trial for him; it's a trial for everyone around him. It's a trial for his church family: how will they react? Will they support, or push him away? Will his family rally around, or run? Will his spouse stick by him, or jettison him? Will his children learn lessons of faith, or become bitter? Will his mother-in-law remain silent and wish her daughter had never married that man, or will she write to him in tears "to express how much I love you and how much you mean to me"?
My mother passed her test with flying colors, over and over again (as did my daddy).
|Adam, sporting a bow-tie on Sunday|