Part of my daily reading each morning includes Charles Spurgeon’s classic devotional, Morning and Evening. (If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so!)
Spurgeon known as the “Prince of Preachers” was a Baptist preacher in London in the 1800’s. His sermons and writings have had a profound impact on believers all over the world.
When you read Spurgeon, a common theme that reoccurs over and over again is the testing of our faith. Spurgeon understood that our faith will be tested throughout our lives, not just once or twice, but over and over again. (Just look at the life of the Apostle Paul!)
God sends us frequent troubles to test our faith. Naturally, it’s hard to believe that our loving Father would send us such painful, heart-wrenching trials, especially when they happen to us personally. From our limited perspective, we don’t understand why we have to endure heartache and pain which may include a loss of a child, a broken marriage, financial difficulties, or health issues.
It seems like just when life is going smooth and things are “working out” how we want them to, something always comes up! Why we ask? Why now God?
As we endure trial and the ups and downs of life, here are 3 encouragements to you as God tests your faith.
- Your afflictions are for God’s glory.
Tough words to hear. Naturally, affliction is not something we desire or want. We try to avoid painful situations. But we can be comforted as believers, because our affliction does not come randomly or by chance.
Quite the contrary. God, who is sovereign, knows exactly what is happening to us. He knows our struggles. He knows our pains. He knows our heartaches.
In the book of John we read the following passage:
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the words of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9:1-3)
We don’t know or understand the reasons behind the trials that we endure. But as we read in the passage above, God caused this man to be born blind so that the words of God should be revealed in him.
I’m guessing that the parents of this man were heartbroken when their child was born blind. Think about your own family. As Christians, would we praise God for causing such an affliction on our family and child? Our natural reaction is to be angry, sad and disappointed.
But when we understand that God causes these afflictions specifically for us, specifically so He can be glorified, how does that change our perspective? Would we rather our child be born able to see but not have the words of God revealed in him?
How much worse to be spiritually blinded as we so often are?
When you are struggling with whatever is happening in your life, take courage that our Heavenly Father afflicts those He loves so that He may be glorified!
- You’ll discover the wisdom and power of God through your trials.
When we are afflicted, what happens? We are forced to our knees. We are forced to step back, be humbled and refocus our attention on God.
Paul writes in Romans 5:3-4, “suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
Think about a beautiful diamond. It didn’t start out beautifully shaped and ready to slip onto someone’s finger, right? To become the highly valued, sought after jewel that it is, what did it take to create it? Intense heat and pressure over an enduring period of time.
The same can be said of each of us. Trials and tribulations squeeze, mold and shape us into who God wants us to be. We all have rough edges that need to be smoothed out. God uses humbling hardships throughout our lifetime to bring us closer to Him.
Do you remember what God said to the Israelites after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness?
He said, “And you shall remember that The Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
How often did the Israelites complain against God during those 40 years? Often! They drove God and Moses nuts with their constant mumbling and grumbling. As soon as they experienced trials along the way, they quickly forgot all that God had done for them! Freeing them from Egyptian slavery, passing through the Red Sea, it was all forgotten as soon as they experienced the physical discomforts of hunger and thirst.
It’s easy for us to look back to their story and wonder how they could be such ungrateful people. But how much are we like them? How often do we forget what God has done for us as soon as we experience a little discomfort?
God tells us in the passage above that He afflicted the Israelites so that they would be humbled and know that man is to live by every word that comes from the Lord. This applies to us as well!
- Your current sufferings will bring greater joy in the future.
When we are in the midst of a trial, oftentimes our vision is blurred and our focus narrow. We can’t see the big picture of what God is orchestrating through our discomfort and suffering.
But how many times after passing through the trial, when we see the sunlight again, do we recognize God’s predestinated plan? Isn’t it true that after we step out of the shadow and into the sunshine we see that God’s plan, though it may have caused us pain at the time, brought us closer to Him?
And when this happens, when we feel the warmth of His love, when we recognize God’s grace and mercy upon us, do we not experience joy?
Time after time, from my own personal life, I have experienced a trial, only to look back over time to see that God had better things in store for me than I could have planned (or thought was what was best for me). Sure, life is full of hurts, disappointments, and brokenness. And of course, at the time it’s not fun to endure tribulations. I mentally kick and scream at God, like a young toddler, unwilling and unaware of what He’s trying to do.
But every time, my hope is that I can look back and say “thank you” God, because I know that the trial that He brought me through is for His glory. Bringing God glory, in all that we do, in all phases of life, in our ups and downs, in our successes and failures is our ultimate goal, is it not?
May I encourage you, as you go through life, to remember that the testing of our faith comes directly from our Lord.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3