Let Your Faith be Tested

James 1:2-4 (ESV)
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

How we approach the various trials in life—whether it is pain, suffering, emotional upheaval, or anything else—says a lot about where we are in our walk with God. We are commanded to not despise the chastening of the Lord (Proverbs 3:11), because only a Father who loves us would care enough to do so (Proverbs 3:12).

For an unbeliever experiencing such circumstances, where do they turn to for comfort? Only what the world can offer which more than likely will lead to further pain down the road, especially if relief comes in the numbing form of alcohol, drugs, or other destructive behaviors. Unfortunately, believers are not immune to such remedies either. For whatever reason, God seems to be a last resort when trouble befalls us.

James instructs us that the trials are life will bring forth a spiritual maturity if we see God in the problem. Don’t read this that God is the problem, but rather see God providing a trial for you so He may give you an opportunity to grow. In other words, it’s not just that we should see God in the solution, but if we can recognize God’s work in us in through the trial, then we can better appreciate the outcome.

 While the trials of this earthly existence are not pleasurable, they can be profitable if we let them. If our faith is never tested, then how can it be perfected?

One of the computer classes I used to teach was network security penetration. The purpose of the class was to learn how to spot vulnerabilities in an organization’s network that could be exploited by hackers. Through a series of different tests, we could determine where the opportunities were to fortify the network from outside influence and thus the network was made more secure and stronger than before.

This is the same process we should count as joy as believers when our faith is tested. It is good to expose areas where we are weak so we can become stronger. James does not mean be happy and laughing when trials come, but rather appreciate the refinement process because only a child of God recognizes such attention from his or her Creator.

I am so thankful for the trials I have been through. Admittedly, most were due to the choices I freely made, yet God used these poor decisions on my part to grow me as His child. In this, I came to realize that no matter how far I strayed, He was patiently waiting on me to come back home. Many of us are like that. For some it’s a gentle nudge to get back on the narrow road; for others like me, it was a baseball bat upside the head to get my attention. Through it all, I’ve now learned to approach any trial that comes up with, “OK God, what are you trying to teach me here?”

Let your faith be tried, and welcome the opportunity to grow.

“Great hearts can only be made by great troubles. The shovel of trouble digs the reservoir of encouragement deeper and makes more room for comfort. God comes into our heart, he finds it full of earthly comforts and begins to break them, to make it empty, then there is more room for grace. The humbler a person is, the more comfort he will always have.” ~ Charles Spurgeon