The LORD tests the righteous.
Finding Faith in Trials | by Steven Dilla
Dorothy Parker sold her first poem to Vanity Fair in 1914 and wrote prolifically for the next five decades. Near the height of her success, Parker revealed a sentiment few writers admit, but to which all can relate; “I hate writing, I love having written.”
To be fair, nearly all disciplines require sacrifice and dedication to a difficult process in order to produce beauty. Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, who performed at The Metropolitan Opera in the early 1900’s, had a long and difficult rise from obscurity to fame. “Bisogna soffrire per essere grandi,” he said regularly. “To be great, it is necessary to suffer.”
This process — beauty born of suffering — is found all around us. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone;” Jesus says, “but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” We love the fruit, but do not often reflect on the death that bore it.
What often goes unnoticed in the difficulty of the trial is the way it activates a person’s faith. It is possible, for many of us in the comfort of the modern western world, never to actually engage our faith at the deepest levels. It is the pain of crisis that pushes us from the assumptions and pleasantries of religion into the depths of genuine love and trust in God.
What we find, at the depths of God’s presence and love, is the fruit of the resurrection. “Death used to be an executioner,” said the english poet George Herbert, “but the resurrection of Christ makes him nothing but a gardener. When he tries to bury you, he’s really planting you, and you’re going to come up better than before.”
“Having written” worked out well for Parker. In addition to hundreds of poems, Parker published nine books, composed a play, and she was on the founding editorial board for The New Yorker. Her legacy lives through her words she endured to write.
How much greater the reward for those who persevere in faith?
God, you are our greatest hope. We cling to you in times of trial. We long for you to refine us — give us strength and endurance in the process. Forgive us for our brokenness and pride. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.