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The trials of our everyday

February 26, 2011

Heading out to the voting polls on Tuesday, you spill coffee on yourself and have to go back into the house and change clothes. Then, backing out of the driveway, you hear a "crunch" and, upon inspection, you see your child's bicycle (the one he saved 10 months to buy at Wal-Mart) in pieces. As the day progresses, it only gets worse. You have a flat tire. Then when you finally get to the gas station to fill up at the pumps, you are told while waiting in line to pay that gas had increased 20 cents on the gallon 30 minutes earlier. And to top it all off, the exterminator calls the office to report your house has termites!

Trials. They come in all shapes and sizes. The above-mentioned would be more on the "irritation scale" of the trial meter of life. Irritations can bug us and mess with our heads, but real trials can mess with our spirits and our souls. For instance, what if you go to the doctor for reports on your yearly physical and he says your tests show cancer? What if your parent or spouse is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease? What if the child you have long awaited has serious mental and/or physical disabilities? Trials. We will not escape them while walking on this earth, but there is a frame of mind that will help improve our quality of life on this side of heaven.

Trials and sorrow do for us what nothing else can do. They bring us to the end of ourselves so we can come to the beginning of a new life through the grace of God. The end of ourselves ... an interesting concept. I have heard my generation called the "Me Generation." Trials tend to do for what nothing else can: They open our eyes to the needs of others. Hardships give us empathy, not just sympathy. Sympathy is "I feel sorry for you." But empathy is so much more. It is "I hurt with you." It is only when we come to the end of ourselves that we truly begin to live for others.

There is a prevalent idea that power in a human life should lift us above all trials and conflicts. However, many of us have seen those who endure extreme hardships and trials and have seen them come through with a sweetness and influence they would have never been capable of before the trial.

The problem with trials is that we have only a human view of them. On a day-to-day basis, I see heart-wrenching situations. It is only through years of seeing how a trial is worked "for good" that I can cope and know there is a "higher plan." But, I know for certain, where there is extreme hardship, there is extreme grace and where there is grace, there is power.

Often when I approach a home where someone is passing away or has already died, I think of the Proverb that says, "Wisdom is in the house of sorrow." Watching a mother die with young children around her would move anyone to tears. It changes me. Someone ask me recently if I was afraid my job of counseling and chaplain work will make me cold. "On the contrary," I admitted. "It keeps my heart soft and is a constant humbling experience as well as a reminder that life is brief and eternity certain."

Sorrow and trials open our eyes that we may see what is really important: God and people. Trials of a major proportion give us eyes to see differently, they give us hearts to feel the pain of others, and wisdom to see that life is not all about me and there is a higher purpose.

Leaving the home at 5 a.m. this week after one of the most precious people I had ever known had passed away, I started my car. As the engine came on, so did my radio. The chorus of this song rang clear: "There Will Be a Day" by Jeremy Camp.

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have

But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab.

The many trials that seem to never end, His word declares this truth,

that we will enter in this rest with wonders anew

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings

That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears

There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face

But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

I know the journey seems so long

You feel your walking on your own

But there has never been a step

Where you've walked out all alone

Troubled soul don't lose your heart

Cause joy and peace he brings

And the beauty that's in store

Outweighs the hurt of life's sting

I can't wait until that day where the very one I've lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I've faced

To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery this is why this is why I sing.

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears

There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face

There will be a day, He'll wipe away the stains, He'll wipe away the tears, He'll wipe away the tears ... there will be a day.

Lastly, trials purify our lives. The finest china in the world is Dresden china. It is burned not once or even twice, but three times to achieve the beauty and quality desired. So it is with us. Left to ourselves, we would become pretty haughty and selfish, wouldn't we? It is the trials we go through and see others go through that change us on a daily basis, creating a life with meaning, purpose and devotion.

I will never forget driving to the apple orchard at the golf course in Richwood after the funeral of my husband 25 years ago. I loved this place and its beauty and I just wanted a place to pray. When I pulled in the parking lot, my heart sank within me! The beautiful trees had been pruned to the trunks. Instead of the beautiful orchard I'd remembered from my girlhood and the luscious fruit I'd expected (it was August), there it was: tree after tree of nothing but stark, ugly, trunks with only a few straggly looking branches.

Suddenly, God spoke to my heart. "That is you ... a pruning is taking place."

You know when pruning of trees take place, it is not only to increase the quantity of the fruit, but also the quality of the fruit. So it is in our lives, when painful trials come they have these purposes (this is not an exhaustive list, but only a few). To give us empathy for others and get our minds off ourselves, to remind us of what truly matters in life, and to purify us to be all we were meant to be. My favorite verse has always been:

Isaiah 61:3 - "To them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."

Remember: There will be a day.

(Kimberly Short -Wolfe, MA, is a counselor at Cornerstone Christian Counseling Center. Contact: 304-637-7018 or e-mail:



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