John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live”
Though you may die…you might still live. These words of Jesus carry weight to them. One of the greatest tests of faith is impending death. Fear of death is considered one of the greatest areas of anxiety among people, when the possibility for loss of life looms, it is there where you see what is at the heart of a person.
Belief is a term often used but seldom defined. I’ve talked with kids on the streets who tell me they believe in Jesus while they smoked pot and lived like the world. Does belief without change imply belief or just an acknowledgement in Jesus?
If you were to conduct interviews for church attendance and in walks Beelzebub who is applying for membership. You might ask him if he believes in Jesus and his response would invariably be, ‘yes’, or you may ask does he believed that Jesus rose from the grave and his answer would likewise be ‘yes’. You see, belief in Jesus is not the answer to proven faith, it is simply a baseline position that denies ignorance.
Whatever way faith is considered, a true test of faith is the one placed under trial. Whether the testing comes by God leading us through trial or by others in what they see in our lives, a true test of character is revealed by review.
Proverbs 27:21 “A crucible for silver and a furnace for gold, but a man is tested by the praise accorded him.”
I know very few people who enjoy testing, matter of fact test anxiety if a very real condition for many. This anxiety causes sweating, sleeplessness, and tension for those who wrestle with this condition.
James exhorts fellow believers to rejoice or count it a joy when we experience these times of trial since it indicates something far deeper is occurring.
When we take tests in school we are being evaluated on our range of knowledge in a particular subject, how well we do on the test is reflected in our score. When reflecting on the test, we can gain understanding of what we know and what we don’t know, it gives us a clue as to where to study further.
When being tested by God, we also gain knowledge. Where we are in our walk with God is revealed through trials but spiritual knowledge is not reserved to any one subject, growth in character is also gained through this divine process.
Character of Growth
- Patience–It seems to go without saying that if you are enduring a trial faithfully, you are learning the value of being patient under trial. Learned patience has a secondary value and that is perfection. Perfection has its root in the greek term Teleios, which indicates a completion of growth in character.
Character is the attribute that acts like a pillar in the life of a believer, when reinforced and developed it is a bulwark of strength in life.
Zechariah 13:9 “I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ”
- Called by name–An encouraging reminder of why God tests is found in who He is testing. God’s people are tested, He has called them His own and He is purposeful in how He acts on their behalf. The fire of discipline can be troubling at the time but the reward is worth the journey. A knowledge and understanding of the magnitude of God’s love is seated deep in the heart of the one who comes through the fire, refined like gold.
Hebrews 11:17 “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,”
- Promises of God–Before you ever go through the fire, the Lord promises that you will not go through it alone. Look through the history of God’s people and you will see faithfulness, faithfulness, faithfulness. Daniel in lion’s den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire, Gideon, Elijah, Samuel, David, the list goes on and on. Jesus was with these men before His great sacrifice and He promised us before He ascended back into Heaven that He would continue to do the same.
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or terrified of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Character of Discipline
- Endurance is key–As you go through the fire, remember that it is the process of the godly to endure. By enduring, you learn to trust, you grow in steadfastness, and you learn to wait on the hand of God to move. Oh, I pray that I would learn to endure better, I think I’m strong until I’m placed under the fire and then all my imperfections are exposed once again.
Lamentations 3:25-30 “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear
The yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and keep silent,
Because God has laid it on him; Let him put his mouth in the dust—
There may yet be hope. Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him,
And be full of reproach.“
- Be prepared–Trials seems to sneak up on me unaware and before I know it, I’ve blown it again. This seems to be my motto in life. I feel like I could save myself alot of shame and embarrassment if I could be a little more prepared for what lies ahead. Does the Lord gives us warning before He takes us through the trial?
Amos 7:4-6 “Thus the Lord God showed me: Behold, the Lord God called for conflict by fire, and it consumed the great deep and devoured the territory. Then I said:
“O Lord God, cease, I pray!
Oh, that Jacob may stand,
For he is small!”
So the Lord relented concerning this.
“This also shall not be,” said the Lord God.
The Lord does show us His plans if we will only listen and respond. Sometimes He reveals a warning, other times He makes it very clear that it is His hand that is moving. If we are lost or confused, He reminds us that He is in control.
A few years ago my wife and I were going through a very difficult time in our marriage, it seemed that we couldn’t have a conversation without it turning into an argument. I could feel the weight of trouble we were having but I couldn’t place where it was coming from, then one night I awoke to the Lord speaking into my heart saying…”Rick, your marriage is under a spiritual attack”. That was all the Lord had to say, I immediately got up, went downstairs and started praying and as I was praying I could feel the burden being lifted. There was an appreciable difference in my relationship with my wife immediately thereafter. Soon, the Lord led me on another journey that enhanced my testimony and prepared me for another chapter in ministry.
Each situation is different but I am convinced the Lord does not leave us alone to suffer. He speaks to us, He waits for us to respond, and then He supplies us faithfully when we do.
Don’t let the enemy gain the upper hand when you have the power of God to rebuke the enemy before you. Don’t let the testing that God is bringing you through to produce anything less than gold.
Each step in the journey is good when God is the one leading it.