Calvin wrote this letter to a woman who was having some minor life difficulties-
“Although I am not so devoid of pity as not to feel deeply moved at seeing you in still closer confinement, yet I cannot cease to exhort you to arm yourself so much the more with constancy, as the trial becomes more terrible; since when Satan and the enemies of the faith press us most without, then is the time for us to use the grace of God. St. Paul glories that, though he was in prison and in chains the doctrine which he preached was not bound, but free and operative.
And indeed as the truth of God, far exalted above the world, reaches even up to heaven, it cannot be subjected to the pleasure and tyranny of men. However then the devil may labor to oppress us with troubles, let our hearts expand so much the more through faith, that we may the better repel his attacks. Our Lord has lately afforded us many examples, and still gives us them daily in various places. They ought to shame us; for if we faint at the stroke of the rod, while others tremble not at death, how shall we be able to excuse our slothfulness? You have thought it impossible to sustain such severe struggles in your house; but you know that the Son of God has given us warnings, in order that nothing of this kind, we being thus prepared, may shake our resolution.
And reflect still further, that this is not the end, but that God is now only gently trying you, He himself bearing your weakness, and being ready so to do till you have become sufficiently strong to endure his inflictions. But, whatever may happen, allow not yourself to be depressed either through negligence or despair. Many are conquered because, while flattering themselves, they suffer their zeal to grow cold; others, on the contrary, are so terrified not to find in themselves the strength which they hoped to possess, that they sink and give up all for lost.
What should we do then? Let us animate ourselves by the consideration of God’s promises, which will serve us as a guide and raise our thoughts to heaven, that we may learn to despise this vain and transitory life; and let us again meditate on his threatenings, that they may inspire us with dread of his judgments. If you feel not your heart moved as it ought to be, seek help from him, without whom we can do nothing; strive to overcome your coldness and weakness, till you discover traces of improvement.
“Much foresight is necessary in this labor. On the one side, you ought unceasingly to sigh, and to cherish such sorrow of heart for your condition, and such anguish for your wretchedness, as to leave you no rest; and, on the other, you should not doubt but that God, however little appearance there may now be of it, will give you strength in due time. It must not discourage you to behold the poor church of God so suffering, and the pride of its enemies increasing with their cruelty. Rather wonder that this is so new to you; for the thought should never have been absent from your heart, that we ought to become more and more like the image of the Son of God, and to bear patiently the reproach of his cross till the day of our triumph come. Neglect not this, but let it serve for your encouragement in the fulfilment of your course, for you will have still further trials to endure.
If I hear that you are deprived of the little freedom left you, but do not cease to preserve a right disposition, nor prove unfaithful to Him, who so well deserves that his honor should be worth more to us than all besides, then will my joy be more complete. But even now do I rejoice in the good confidence which I have in you. Do not therefore distress me by deceiving this hope, still looking as you should ever do to our good God, and our Lord Jesus, who has shown how dear we are to Him, by offering up himself for our redemption. So bear yourself therefore as to shame Satan and his ministers, who have hoped to trample your faith in the dust.
But since such a victory requires a greater strength than you possess, flee to our good Lord Jesus, who is made to us of God for righteousness, that in him we may be able to do all things. I on my part will pray God that it may please Him so to pour the grace of his spirit into your soul, that you may experience what it is to be strengthened by God and to glorify him. I will beseech him to take you into his holy keeping, and to defend you against the rage of the wolf and the cunning of the fox; wherefore I commend myself in humility to your benevolence and your prayers.”
That’s a lot of words just to say ‘toughen up, princess’.