In our last article, “God Matures Believers through Trials,” we talked about a missionary by the name of Mary Lewer. In this article current article about facing trials and tribulations, we look at another woman who found God faithful and described how God prepared her for trials to come.
Christians need not follow the ways of the world when tragedy comes. In contrast, they may follow the examples of believers who have responded to suffering by trusting God, abiding in His love, and seeking to know Him more. We give one brief example here, as reported in three issues of Moody Bible Institute Monthly. The September 1930 issue described the progress of Arthur and Ethel Tylee’s pioneering a work with the Nhambiquara Indians in Brazil. They had made some good progress in “overcoming prejudice, cultivating confidence, acquiring a smattering of their language, and giving the first demonstrations of Christian love.”
However, the December 1930 issue of Moody reported the tragic deaths of Arthur Tylee, Mildred Kratz (a nurse who had joined the work), and the Tylees’ baby at the hands of the very Indians they loved and served. While the Tylees had made some progress gaining their confidence, conflict developed between the Indians and government workers who were attempting to erect a telegraph line through the area. Evidently the tribe’s animosity towards outsiders confused them and led them to attack the missionaries, who were easy targets as they opened their home to the Indians. Mrs. Tylee was seriously wounded but survived. The following is quoted from the June 1931 issue of Moody. It is Mrs. Tylee’s letter of January 4, 1931, written from the very place where she lost her husband, baby, and friend:
To you who have been so faithful in your intercession for us and the work in Juruena, I am sending this message that you may know that your prayers have not been in vain. I want to tell you how I have been sustained and kept by the mighty outpouring of His love and grace in answer to your prayers. I also want you to know how Arthur counted on you and your prayer fellowship in the task God gave him to perform. I do not think a single Wednesday night passed that he did not think of you as you were meeting for prayer and praise.
But I long especially that not one of you should allow yourself to feel that there has been any failure on the part of those in Juruena or the prayer helpers in the homeland. We must believe that all happened according to the plan of an all-wise and loving Heavenly Father, even to the smallest detail. I do not say we must understand, but only believe.
I know many of you have wondered if we had any warning or any preparation for what happened. To that question I have to answer both yes and no. As to warning, we were just a little puzzled by some of the things that occurred in the two preceding days, and yet we had no grave apprehensions. Arthur is now in the presence of his Lord and to him all has been made plain, while I am still groping in the darkness, yet even in the darkness I can trace the working of my Father’s loving hand, and not one thing would I have different.
How distinctly I recall each movement of my loved one on that last morning as he attended faithfully to the little everyday details of our life. There was his quiet time with the Word, sitting at his desk; the transplanting of some young trees; the work in the garden. All went on as it had for so many days previous, but as it never was to again. Then came breakfast. We ate it as we had eaten many another meal, surrounded by Indians.
As Arthur ate his breakfast, the chief sat by him discussing the work on the auto road which had been planned for the day. He arose from the table to attend to the final preparations. My meal had been interrupted several times so the others excused themselves and left me to finish. I had not left the table when the signal was given and in a few minutes all was over. To you it may seem ghastly, but to me it was not so. No long, lingering illness accompanied by suffering and the wasting away of his strength. One swift, clean blow and he was ushered into the presence of his Lord. How I love to remember him as I saw him last, in the strength of his manhood!
As for our preparation, I wonder if there could have been a better one? I think not. What so prepares us for the big things of life, whether they be joys or tragedies, as a quiet daily walk with our Father, meeting each temptation or each danger in the strength of the Lord and faithfully performing each day’s task. The years we had spent in Juruena, often facing danger, gave us a quiet, calm assurance in His keeping power that was with us to the last. (Bold added.)
For Arthur, I am sure no further preparation was needed to meet his Lord, nor did it seem the least bit strange to him to find the veil removed and to see Him face to face. As I came back from the darkness of unconsciousness to find myself not only without my own family but to find my entire household gone, it was to know a Father’s care so tender, so gentle, that even the intense loneliness of the first day’s separation were made sacred and hallowed. The “Kindly Light” that never fails made even those days luminous with His presence. So I ask you to believe with me that no accident has happened but only the working out of our Father’s will. To you who knew and loved Arthur I beg you not to mourn him as dead, but to rejoice with me that he has been called to higher service.
But what of the work he laid down? Are the years of patient labor and unceasing prayer to be lost? That is for us to answer. Shall we not dedicate ourselves anew to the task of bringing the Gospel to the Nhambiquara Indians, for if anything can add to Arthur’s joy in the Gloryland it will be to share the joys of heaven with the dark friends he so dearly loved and to whom he gave “the last full measure of devotion.”
Sincerely, Ethel Canary Tylee
Notice how prior trials and her faithful daily walk with her Lord had prepared Ethel Canary Tylee for this most devastating attack and grievous loss. In Christ she knew where to look and where to turn and how to glorify Christ in the situation. Instead of focusing on herself and being swallowed up in grief and in all the natural feelings and sorrows that naturally come, she continued her daily walk with the Lord and determined to trust God even in the deepest pain. She did not deny the horror or the grief, but she chose to turn her thoughts to the Lord and continue to serve Him and promote the work she and her husband had begun. Her love for her savior increased day by day because she was able to hang on to her hope for eternity—not only for herself and her family, but for those she had come to serve.
Does Ethel Tylee’s response sound too good to be true? Do we feel that prepared? Are we ready for such a trial? No! Not in ourselves! But when we cry out to God, He will come to rescue us by grace through faith. In other words, God really does it all in His marvelous grace; but we must participate by faith, as weak and small as it may be. Walking daily by faith in Christ is our small part in preparation for trials and tribulations. He is always with us to perform His will in us and through us, no matter what the visible outcome may be as we keep our eyes on Him and on eternity.
With all the technological advances; violence and unrest at home and abroad; national and international conflicts, mayhem, wars and rumors of wars around the world, we need to be ready for trials and troubles. The conflict between good and evil and between truth and error that began in the Garden of Eden continues to escalate, and we need to be ready for difficult circumstances. How can we become prepared? Intentionally maintaining a close daily walk with the Lord. Trusting and obeying Him in easy circumstances will prepare us to trust and obey Him in hard times as well.
The essence of a daily walk with the Lord is living in our blessed love relationship with Christ. After we have been born again and received new life in Christ, we are in Him and He is in us. The abiding relationship with our Lord involves deeper and greater love than any other relationship. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Remembering His love and His very presence daily gives us assurance, confidence, and power to walk pleasing in His sight.
The Bible is filled with verses that remind us of our abiding relationship with Christ, but with the hustle and bustle of life it is very easy for us to forget His presence, power, and promise to never leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5). Thus, we need reminders, which come through such daily devotional activities as Bible reading and memorization, prayer, thanksgiving, worship, and praise. One or more of these practices daily give honor to God and help us turn our attention to Him who is the very center of our daily walk. Along with reminders we need to know His will and purpose to trust and obey Him. Thus, Paul prayed for believers and desired that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That [they] might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:9-10).
Many passages in Scripture reveal how to walk daily with the Lord, abide in His love, and grow spiritually thereby. God has given examples in the Bible and throughout the history of the Church of how to walk with Him as we confront the challenges of life. And, as we emphasized in “God Matures Believers through Trials,” painful circumstances in a Christian’s life can serve as great opportunities to know Christ and to be conformed to His image. Trials also prepare us for the next ones as we learn to trust and obey our faithful, loving God. But trials serve even higher purposes. They serve to glorify God as we in our own helplessness turn to Him in faith.
Paul did not waste time licking his wounds in self-pity. One can find numerous passages that extol the usefulness of suffering, not only for spiritual growth, but for usefulness in ministry and for future glory. Paul even gloried in his tribulation (Romans 5:3). He revealed an eternal perspective:
…but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
God worked in and through Ethel Tylee by grace through faith, just as He worked in Paul by grace through faith. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, He will continue to work in and through believers today by grace through faith. A daily walk devoted to the Lord is essential for believers to grow, serve, and please God. And the greatest joy of walking daily with Christ is that glorious love relationship with Him and the privilege to knowing Him more and more each day.