Help in Hard Times

From Rev. John Odhner, Assistant to the Pastor
March 26, 2019

I find that the teachings for the New Church are amazingly helpful in all kinds of situations. One teaching has been about the spiritual temptations that are a part of the regenerative process. The literal meaning of the Word does not say very much about temptations. We know that the Lord went through temptations in the wilderness after His baptism, and again when He was on the cross, and not much else is said about the Lord’s temptations. Behind the scenes, though, the Lord was constantly going through temptations throughout His life in the world, for it was through temptations, or conflicts with the hells, that the Lord overcame the power of evil and brought us spiritual freedom.

The word for “temptation” in Latin actually means a “trial” or “test,” and these spiritual tests are a part of our daily life as the Lord makes us new. We learn a great deal about spiritual trials in the Writings, and how they involve inner conflict leading to peace, feelings of anxiety leading to comfort and despair leading to hope (Secrets of Heaven 1820, 8159, 8179, etc.). Not everyone who goes through these difficult things is going through an actual spiritual test. They are worldly challenges for people who are only concerned about their worldly life, and spiritual challenges for those who care about their spiritual life.

I have found that some Christians don’t talk much about these trials, because they have believed that once you are “saved” you shouldn’t have any problems afterwards. As a result many people feel embarrassed to talk about the hard things that they go through, feeling ashamed of them. In the New Church we know that every spiritual person faces difficult challenges on the way to heaven.

On April 6, Bryn Athyn Church is hosting an event called Finding Hope. One of the goals of the event is to talk about things that we often have a hard time talking about, such as addiction, abuse, suicide, and mental illness. It can be challenging to be subject to these kinds of trauma, and it can also be challenging when someone we love experiences them. This is a good time to sign up for this event at

A new tool we have for people who are going through grief is Phone It Forward, brought to you by the Office of Outreach of the General Church. If you know someone who is grieving a loved one, you may want to support them through their grief process. Many of us, however, are not sure what to say to someone who is grieving. Phone It Forward offers ideas of what to say, and what not to say, to support someone through the difficult process of accepting loss. These suggestions come in the form of weekly emails that should encourage and inspire you to make regular weekly contact with a friend who is grieving. You can sign up at

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