The Gift of the Trial

Count it all joy when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that testing of your faith produces steadfastness, and let steadfastness have its full effect so that you may be lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

My father will always be my hero. He was a gambler; he had been gambling since he was just 12 years old, and it’s how he made a living until the day he passed away. He always provided for my mother and I, much more than we ever even needed. We wanted for nothing. It takes a certain level of faith to be a gambler, something I never realized or truly appreciated until I reached adulthood. My father had faith in who he was and faith that God would provide, and He always did.

Daddy was one of the most well known bookies in the US. Unlike many though, he had a heart of pure gold. I can remember Mama telling me if Daddy had actually been paid everything he was owed by people we would have long been millionaires. Daddy wasn’t preoccupied with money though. Daddy had compassion for people, and he lended money to anyone and everyone that asked him. If someone owed him money on a bet they lost, Daddy gave them grace, and he wouldn’t force them to pay it. Many, many times, he allowed people to take advantage of him. Mama and I were taken care of, and that’s all that mattered.

It’s hard to recall a point in time I felt a stronger bond between my parents and I as I did when we together as a family faced a trial. For nearly two years, we didn’t know whether or not we were going to be separated for many years. My father was arrested for his involvement in a gambling ring. Through legal loop holes, the FBI was able to tie my mother into it as well, since she assisted my dad many times in picking up and dropping off money.

I don’t think I had ever seen my mother cry before—not like I did that day, the day they were both arrested. I was terrified at the thought of my family being torn apart. For many months we had to wait on the trial, the trial that would determine my parents (and my) fate. I can vividly remember that period of my life, the angst I felt, the anger, and the pure fear. My parents didn’t deserve this; they were good people, and my dad was supporting his family the best way, the only way he knew how.

We rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance. (Romans 5:3)

We all knew in the (not so) near future we would face a trial in a cold hard court room. What we didn’t know is that the real trial was the one we were facing while waiting. As an 11 year old in elementary school, most of my friends were told they weren’t allowed to hang around me anymore. My mom was shunned everywhere she went. My parents’ cars were taken, a lean was put on our house, and all the money they had in the bank was seized. We were going through hell, but the one thing they couldn’t take away from us was each other.

Its during the trial we find our strength, and we find one another. It’s during the trial we find ourselves crying out to God. Sometimes, the only way God can get our attention is through a trial, through the break in our daily routine.

In a way, we can think of the trial as a test, a test we should have been preparing for. You will be faced with trials of many kinds no matter who you are. My best piece of advice is this, don’t wait for the trial to draw near to the ones you love; don’t wait for the trial to seek God’s face. The time to prepare for war and trials is during times of peace, not in the midst of facing them. When we are prepared for something, it’s smooth sailing when it arrives. When we seek God consistently, we begin to see the trial differently when it arrives. It starts to become less of a fight and more so an adventure, an opportunity for growth. In preparing for the trial, I’ve learned to look for joy and even for humor in all situations. I’ve learned that when we resist things, we give the enemy power. Most importantly, I’ve learned love is all that matters; love conquers all.

Daddy and I were in the car shortly after the end of our family’s nightmare, and I felt peace for the first time in a long time. We had our family’s cars back; we had our house back, and we had money in the bank again. I looked over at my father, and I said, “Daddy, have you ever had a million dollars?” He looked at me, smiling big from ear to ear and said, “The only time I’ve ever had a million dollars is when I had you.”

One response to “The Gift of the Trial”

  1. Marilyn Joseph Avatar
    Marilyn Joseph

    Made me cry 😭

    Liked by 1 person

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