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Monday, November 03, 2008

The Testing of Your Faith

It is my suspicion that if you have never questioned what you believe, you may not actually believe it. Well, perhaps that's not fully accurate, but the truth is that we always act on what we truly believe.

James has an interesting phrase that we very often hear but don't take in. He says "the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" (James 1:3). If you haven't had your faith tested, there is a good chance that you lack "steadfastness."

Believing what you believe is easy when it's not challenged. The question is what do you do with what you believe when it gets difficult? Imagine, for a moment, a loved one, a dear person, who is an avowed atheist. They reject God wholly. Oh, you still love them. Maybe they're family. Maybe a friend. And, seriously, they're such nice people. But their eternal condition is in peril. And then ... they die. Now, the loss of a loved one is a difficult thing to face on its own. A loss of a loved one eternally is much, much harder. So what do you do now? Do you re-examine your theology and wonder about loopholes to "Jesus is the only way"? Do you question the wisdom or goodness of God? I'm not talking about the feelings. I'm talking about ... "the testing of your faith." Do you continue to believe what you did before or do you question it?

What about when your son declares himself a homosexual? Or your high-school daughter comes up pregnant? Or you lose a spouse? Or you are told you have cancer? Do these things change your belief in God or do they affirm it?

How about this? You read and say you believe that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose." Great! So ... when unpleasant things occur, do you complain or do you expect that God causes all things to work together for good? You say that you agree with the Bible. So, when meet trials of various kinds, do you "count it all joy" (James 1:2-4) or do you waver (James 1:6)? Do you expect good things from God when bad things happen?

All of us need our faith tested. All of us need our faith "tuned." All of us need times of trials so that we can find out those areas that we say we believe but, when face to face with difficulties, find that we aren't really convinced. Sometimes you'll find you were believing the wrong thing (like, perhaps, "God only allows nice things for His people"). Sometimes you'll find that you weren't actually believing what you said you were believing. Sometimes -- and these times are so precious -- you will find yourself crowded into the arms of the Only One who can ultimately comfort you. It's good for us. Trust me ...

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