How to Respond in Times of Trial: Pray, Seek, Obey!

praying woman wearing red sweatshirt

When I kissed my husband as he left me for heaven, it was a bittersweet goodbye. For 5 years, we rode the roller-coaster aftermath of his massive stroke. I had managed his care during months of 24/7 days as he fought for a recovery that never came.

During our initial days in the ICU and the trauma of a devastating prognosis, a friend asked, “How are you surviving this?” Her concern was magnified because Phil was my second husband. I had already been widowed once.

I told my friend that I had developed personal habits that lent a routine to my days and somehow “doing the next thing” was keeping me even in the chaos of this trial.

When Phil moved from the ICU to total nursing home care, my doctor was worried about my long days, weight loss, and mental exhaustion. He offered medication for rest and stress relief. I considered his counsel and then explained that I believed my physical (exercise, water intake, eating habits) and daily (friendships, family support, spiritual resources) disciplines would provide what I needed to eventually find my way to a healthy balance even in this “new” life of full-time caregiving when I took Phil home.

Reviewing those demanding days, I see how I was sustained by habits developed in my previous years of following God. I consider these significant choices:

  1. Praying daily. Conversation with God had become a consistent part of my relationship with Him. So even in the days, months, and years of disruption, I kept communication open. I pleaded, ranted, cried, and petitioned, but I kept talking. I knew from reading Psalms that God was big enough to handle even my wrestling.
  2. Determining to seek Him. I believed the Proverbs 3:6 admonition that we should acknowledge Him in all our ways. It had become my custom to seek God’s wisdom, so going to Him for help in caregiving and direction in decisions was natural. I had also developed the discipline of looking for God in daily moments and often saw Him meet me through the counsel of a friend, a promise from His Word, a circumstance in my day, or the Spirit’s voice to my heart.
  3. Trusting and obeying. During his helpless years, my husband became my visual for trusting and obeying God. If he was able to trust after the loss of everything, how could I do less?

A popular song advises us if we cannot see God’s hand, then we should trust His heart. Believing in God’s presence and love is our key to responding correctly in devastating trials. And responding correctly brings God glory in a world amazed we can still trust and obey.


Even in the Valley

  • Talk to God even if it is only 1 word like “help” or “please.” It is also OK to ask questions like “Why us?” or “Why this?”
  • Trust in God—in His heart, in His Word, and in His purpose.
  • Try to keep moving spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Lettie Kirkpatrick Burress loves talking to God on the mountain trails of East Tennessee. Write her at

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