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I was introduced to Fenelon years ago during my ministry time at Calvary Chapel in Downey, California.  His seminal work, “Let Go” is a must read at least once a year.  Since then, I have found many more works from Fenelon.  God uses his writings to encourage me, exhort me, and remind me of the comfort of the Lord.  I hope you enjoy them as I post some of his letters in the future.

Dear suffering friend,

I feel sadness for the harsh suffering and sickness your dear friend is facing. And, remember, it isn’t only your friend that is suffering. I feel sadness for the pain taken on by every true friend (like you) that God has put in her life in order to be with her, to help her carry her suffering. Don’t let her lose trust in God. God will allow suffering, for sure; but not too much. God controls the amount, and for every bit of pain He allows, He will give patience and courage to endure. There is no one else to turn to for this patient strength. Only God can give the amounts of suffering we need (yes, need). Only God can give us the patient strength we depend on. God loves to provide for us when the situation is desperate. As God sees it, one of His jobs is to renew and to restore, to rejuvenate with grace.

Nobody – certainly not you or I – know how to mix the precise amounts of suffering and strength. We don’t even know when or where our suffering will come. We don’t know how long suffering will afflict us. We have no idea what kind of grace will be required to hold us up under the pressure suffering carries.

Since there is so little we know, we are tempted to give up, to surrender to despair. It’s like someone who has never seen the ocean. When they stand in the foamy tide for the very first time, with their back against a rock cliff, they see the surging waves, big waves. It is terrifying as the first wave rushes in. They are terrified that they will be swallowed up. But they won’t be. Out in the water, a reef provides a buffer, and the strong wave cannot surge past because the sand of the ocean floor breaks the wave apart. Pain and suffering often rush at us like this wave, large enough to overwhelm us. But God marks the point the suffering cannot surge past. God breaks up our suffering just before the pain threatens to overwhelm us.

God tests his followers with ocean-like conditions. God stirs up the sea. God pushes huge waves toward us, waves that threaten to destroy us, drown us. However, God is always present with us, right there. And, standing beside us, God says to the waves, you have come this far; you can not go another inch. St. Paul said it this way to the Corinthians: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”

— Fenelon

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