Test of our Faith

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – 1 Peter 1:7

It is possible to endure suffering because of our own mistakes or sins. But Scripture also talks about a different kind of suffering, one that is brought about by doing good. When we respond to God’s grace and believe in Lord Jesus Christ, we are born again into the Kingdom of God. But as we begin this new life, there is an uninvited guest who enters our lives – trials. We read in the Bible – “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him.” Trials essentially reveal two aspects of our lives:

  1. The genuineness of our love for Christ
  2. The extent of our dependence on God in every circumstance

Scriptures reveal that the test of our faith comes in different ways:

God tests our faith through the abundance He gives us

Abundance or prosperity can often generate the below sins in the lives of a believer:

  1. It makes him forget God
  2. It leads him to neglect the word of God
  3. It allows pride to enter his life

It is essential to remain faithful to God in our abundance and prosperity by living in gratitude to God. Abraham, in all his abundance, lived like a foreigner in tents, looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. His eye was always on God, not on his riches. Our abundance should not distract us from the hope of eternity. In our prosperity, we should continue to give thanks to God for all His mercies and blessings.

God tests our faith through trials

We read in 1 peter 4:12 – “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” Apostle Peter wrote this epistle around AD 64/65. At this time, Christians were severely persecuted by Emperor Nero, who often lit his garden parties using the bodies of saints as human torches. This was the community of believers who had grown in their faith by reading about and believing in the same God who had rescued Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace without as much as the smell of fire. Now their brethren are being burned alive. It is in this situation that Apostle Peter reminds them not to be surprised about the fiery trials that they are going through.

Bible says in Acts 8:1 , “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem”. Here it says that it was a great persecution, a persecution that was beyond what they had imagined or expected. Why did God allow these trials? Just like God tests our faith in our abundance, He also tests our faith through trials.

Test of faith in everyday Christian life

God can test our faith in our normal everyday Christian life. Trials can happen during our daily lives in various forms.

2 Chronicles 16:7 says – “At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the LORD your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram.” Asa began his career as king with spiritual reformation. His kingdom became strong and prosperous. But the ensuing years of power and success brought a subtle danger – self-reliance. Asa was tested by God when king Baasha began to build a fortified city against him. Rather than relying on the Lord, Asa called on the king of Aram. He brought silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the LORD and of the king’s house, and sent them to the king of Aram. His eyes went to King of Aram instead to the Almighty God who protected him and brought great success for his nation in the past. Asa forgot that his covenant was with God, not with a pagan king.

Again we read in 2 Chronicles 32:25 – “But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the LORD’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem.” Bible tells us that when Hezekiah fell critically ill, he prayed to God with loud cries. God mercifully gave him a sign that He would heal him and extend his life for another 15 years. God tested the faith of Hezekiah through this miraculous healing. God wanted to know how he would live the extended 15 years of his life. And Bible says Hezekiah became proud and ultimately failed the test of God.

We read about several other instances where God tests the faith of individuals. Prophet Elijah was sent to the widow of Zarephath. Elijah asks her for a piece of bread, and the destitute widow invites him to her home where she uses her last bit of flour and oil to bake for him. The prophet then blesses the woman and her child, and assures them that their supplies of flour and oil will never be diminished. Because of her unquestioned obedience, God blessed her and she and her family lived in abundance for the rest of their lives. Again, we read in the Scriptures that upon Moses’ orders, Caleb, Joshua and ten others went out to explore the Promised Land and bring back a report. The group of spies saw fortified cities and resident giants. Except for Joshua and Caleb, the remaining ten of them were frightened and informed the Israelites that they will never be able to conquer this land. Only Joshua and Caleb trusted in the God given promise and declared that they should go up and take possession of the land promised to them by God. The giants of Anak were a test of faith given to the twelve spies.

Today, do we forsake our God given promises when we encounter giants of Anak in our lives? Also, we read in Exodus that God gave manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. And they were instructed to collect what is required for one day only. But the Israelites worried that manna would stop and started hoarding it and they found that whatever excess they collected had turned foul. It was a test of faith that God gave the Israelites in the wilderness.

Today, when we encounter different situations in our daily lives, we often do not realize that they are tests of faith by God. God eagerly looks unto us to see how we handle these tests of faith. Do we trust God and stick to Him or do we get discouraged and run after the world to look for help.

Tests have different grades

Not all trials and tests are of the same magnitude or severity. Each person encounters a different test of faith in his/her life. It could be a fiery trial or it could be a great persecution. Whatever be the grade of trial that you are facing today, remember that it is not a strange thing. It is an integral part of Christian life.

Trials in connection with our spiritual growth

Scripture says in 1 Cor 10:13 – “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” We read in the Scriptures about the trials that Job went through. It is true that God gave Satan permission to test job, but He was confident that Job will remain steadfast in his faith in God. Job did not fail God. In Luke Chapter 22, we see Peter saying to Jesus that he was even willing to die with Him. But Jesus knew that his faith was weak and told him – “Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers.”

In Jeremiah 45:5, God spoke to Baruch, the faithful scribe of Jeremiah these words – “Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people; but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the LORD, have spoken!”.  Although Baruch was busy doing God’s will, for a time he struggled with a desire for “great things.” God warned him of the danger, and promised him that in the midst of disaster that He will bring upon that people, Baruch’s life will be spared and given to him as a spoil. This message holds significant value in today’s times. While the world is battling this current pandemic, we must realize that we are not exceptions. We may not be infected by the virus, but the social and economic consequences it brings may affect us too. Let us remember not to question God but to thank Him for His protection and provision and for giving our souls as a spoil to us. Great things that we desired may not happen in our lives during this situation, but God has given us our lives as a reward. During these times of trial, let us stand strong in our faith and pray for God’s protection and provision in our lives. Your soul is a reward and God will not allow it to be touched. Trust in Him. Build your faith in Him.

Trials are not meant to defeat us

Trials are not meant to defeat us, but to make us overcomers. 2 Cor 1:3-4 says– “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.“ This current pandemic or any other situation in your life is not meant to defeat us or destroy us. In 1 Cor 10:13, we read – “but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.“ God will provide us a way out to overcome the trials. God strengthens us during our trials and He will make us overcomers and He will equip us to help others to become overcomers too. If we rely completely on Him, He will bless us and make us a blessing in the lives of others.

Trials purify us

All impurities are removed when gold is refined through fire. The furnace of a refiner’s fire is heated up so high that the gold and silver are melted and all the impurities are burned away. Similarly, when we pass through fiery trials in our lives, we are cleansed and purified. Trials test the strength of our faith and help us to be steadfast in our faith and trust in God. Today, can we say with Job – “Though He slays me, yet I will trust in Him”.

Trials bring eternal and current blessings

1Peter 1:7 – “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” When our faith remains strong through all our trials that we endure today, we can rest assured that it will bring us much honor and glory at the return of Jesus Christ.

Scripture says that there will be an increase of trials during the end times. Jesus says in Luke 18:8 – “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” An increase of trials could possibly affect the faith of many. Hence Jesus wonders if He would find faith on earth when He returns. We must not forget that the trials and the problems and the difficulties that come into our lives come to test and prove our faith.

Some of us are going through incredibly tough times right now. In whom do we put our trust? Do we look up to God and trust in His promises or do we look to the world? God desires that we will rely totally on Him. God who arrays the lilies of the valley and provides food for the sparrows, will he not take care of us much more? Jesus said, ‘do not be anxious about tomorrow.’ God is capable of providing for our needs, today, tomorrow and forever. Do not give up. Look up to God and realize that He is with you. Do not be discouraged by the trials in your life. Do not lose heart if your prayers are not answered quickly. Keep knocking on the doors of heaven. Be consistent in prayer and above all, remain steadfast in faith!

 

Pr. Juxy Mathew