Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Practicing Trials: Read and Receive

Sometimes, I read books to practice life.

I pretend I’m trying the story out, as if I could use the vicarious experience as a rehearsal, imagine what I’d do, and be better equipped to do that thing if my life ever comes to that. It’s like exercise. Getting in shape for the race that might be ahead.
If this happened to me, what would I do?
Would I do what this person did?
Would I be strong like they are?

I wonder how many people are reading my book in this way? Do some of you read to try out a trial, to “practice” a hard thing?

Of course, if the borrowed trial gets too intense, I can always just close the book and walk away.

That is power, SO much power. And that is the hardest thing with real trials: the lack of power. The awful experience of having NO control.

Some of you who read understand exactly what I mean.
There’s no practicing for this. There’s just living it, and trying to survive.

When Aggie was sick, really sick, I couldn’t even practice letting her go. I wanted to read a book by a parent who had suffered faithfully, but I could not bear to read one that went there, down to that valley. I did not dare to read a book written by a parent who buried a child. Sure, they survived the grief, and they probably grained wisdom that I needed… but, when Aggie was sick, I just couldn't do it.. I was sure even the practice would kill me. What then, of the reality?

I remember waking up mornings feeling in the grips of the trial, of evil and suffering and epilepsy. I felt as if my heart was in a vice, an icy cold metallic thing clamping down and squeezing. Not even in sleep would it let me go. And it was dragging me somewhere. Where are we going? Make it stop! Let us go!

You can’t really practice that.
You can’t know the cold grip of death on your heart until it grips, and it won’t let go.
And it’s dragging you somewhere and you’re sure you don’t want to be there. And you’re terrified.

What if it happened to you?
What if seizures invaded? Or your baby got sick? Or death stopped taunting in shadows and really threatened, driving you to uncertain hospital rooms?
If this happened to you, what would you do?

Would you be strong like I was?
If you read my book and tell me, “wow, you were so brave/strong/holy, blah blah blah,” I will know you did not really read it. I wasn’t strong. I tried my best to fake it. Perhaps you could fake it better than I did.

Would you do what I did?
Would you freak out, fight God, and fall apart more than once? Would you feel your sin flair up and your faith falter? Would you be horrified at your lack of love, lack of strength, lack of wisdom, lack of trust in God? Would you be flattened? Needy? Weak?

Would you cry out to God?
What else can mortals do? Lord, to Whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

Would God listen?

That’s the question, isn’t it?

Does He hear? Would He listen, to YOU?
How do you know?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.
He did not spare His own Son (for YOU). He will also graciously give you all things good for your soul.

You can’t practice a trial, but you can practice receiving from a Faithful God.  

Today’s trials and griefs, big or little, show you your need. Don’t avert your eyes. See Yourself as He sees you: sinful and unclean, a beggar, weak, and at His mercy. Come to Him in the name of Jesus with your empty hands, and receive.

God welcomes us, His children, and gives us exactly what our souls need: All things, from daily bread to eternal life.

Look to Jesus. Cling to His word. Take refuge in Him, receiving His forgiveness and grace, and with that, all things good for your soul. Right now, you may be suffering for yet a little while, but take heart. He Who Promises will not fail you. His grip on You is firm, and His Words are Solid.

And after you have suffered a little while, 
the God of all grace, 
who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, 
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 
To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 
1 Peter 5:10-11


If you don't have your eBook yet, get it here.
or the paperback, here.
For more like this see the series:
My Weakness His Strength 

I'd love to hear from you!
Do you read books to practice life?
How do you practice receiving from God?


  1. Oh, how I know that feeling. You can’t practice for life. I think in the long run it’s probably good that we can’t. Otherwise our dependence on God would be minimal= because I can fool myself into thinking I am “strong enough.”

    So, so good, Emily!

    1. You are so right. His strength is not something we get to grab once and then carry around in our backpack. Instead, He wants us to abide.

  2. With my past experience with death, my mind all too often wanders to "what ifs". What if my parents died...what if my brothers died...what if my child died. There is no amount of practice that can prepare us for certain situations. I'd like to think, I've done it before I could do it again...but who wants to do it again?! If I was put in a trial again or like you went thru with Aggie I know I would "freak out, fight God, and fall apart more than once? Would you feel your sin flair up and your faith falter? Would you be horrified at your lack of love, lack of strength, lack of wisdom, lack of trust in God? Would you be flattened? Needy? Weak?" The real question is would I call out to God and how long would I wallow and fight God before I called out to Him?

    1. Or, would you be like me, and call out and fight at the same time?! :)

  3. You are so right. I always say, that if I knew that I would endure some of the things I have, i would have given up before I started. But, God has given me what I have needed, when I have needed it. He is so good, even when I am not!

    1. I would have given up before I started. Yes.
      And I would NOT have had SIX kids!? :)

  4. It's so funny but I do the same thing, too! I also do it when I'm going into a situation that has me worried...I go over possible scenarios in my head and working out how I'll react. Fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be) it NEVER turns out as I had expected so I don't get to use any of my made-up scenarios.

    1. Seems like such a waste, doesn't it? :) I sure wish I could have a trial run at everything. Or... maybe I don't.

  5. This is so true. I need to work on this more often by receiving easier. I am a preparer. I somehow visualize the worse case (even though I don't actively try to do this) and think of what I would do. I need to live life less stressed for sure!! Thanks for linking up with us today for Into the Word Wednesday. I also downloaded your book and can't wait to read through it!

    1. I am a preparer too... I can face anything, so long as you give me a nice checklist before hand so I know exactly how I will face it! :)

  6. 1 Peter 5:10-11 is such a perfect promise. I think i need t write this on a wall in my house or something! I just got your book!! Thanks for linking up today!

    1. Yes I love that verse too. Such a comfort to know He is committed to finishing this thing. Maybe I'll embroider it on a pillow or something.
      Probably not. :) I'll just try to remember it!

  7. Emily, I love that verse from I Peter. Thank you for highlighting it. How great to be reminded from you, first hand, that God is faithful and that He upholds us!
    I'm about to be on a blog break, and look forward to reading your book then. Blessings!

    1. I hope you enjoy it Ann! Happy reading :)

  8. That is the most wonderful and terrifying thing about reading -- experiencing other lives. Great post!

  9. i'm so thankful that HE strengthens me when i just can't go on any longer. God is always so faithful.

    My daughter has gastroparesis and has been fighting it for 5 years. she will have to have a pacemaker and is only 17. take your worst flu and vomiting and that is what she endures each day, several times a day. I know God will use this to make her an amazing servant of His.

    but, what i've learned from pain is pain and IT ALL Hurts. and even though the hurt can be consuming....God is faithful!

    Thank you for this reminder


    1. OH Marie that must be so hard for her and for you. May He uphold you...


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