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Test of Faith

by Tom Brown

I recently went to the hospital to visit one of my parishioners, a dear lady who had been going through many, many trials. It just seemed liked everything that could go wrong in her life did. A few months ago she was injured on her job; not long afterwards her house was burglarized; and now she was in a major auto accident, bruised all over.

My heart went out to her. And in my compassion the Lord caused to rise up in my spirit a scripture, Psalm 34:19. And as I quoted this verse to her, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all," she broke down in tears. This word from God truly ministered to her.

As the tears streamed down her cheeks, I thought to myself, "How many sincere, dedicated believers are going through many trials, thinking that God has forsaken them or perhaps blaming themselves for their problems." After all, this woman had done nothing wrong. The accident was the other driver's fault, yet she was the one suffering.

Yes, many problems we go through are brought on by our own actions. Speeding tickets. Obesity. Gambling loses. These and other such things, happen because of our own actions. However, many of the problems of life are not any human being's fault.

Psalm 34:19 is clear: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous..." It didn't say, "Many are the afflictions of the sinner." NO! Even the righteous may undergo many trials--ask Job! Troubles and afflictions are a normal part of the Christian' life, but we don't have to be defeated by them.

For some reason we have thought that the life of faith is a life free from troubles. Instead, the life of faith is a life overcoming troubles.

We faith people love quoting 1 John 5:4: "...This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." What is it that brings us victory? Our faith! Faith brings us victory. But remember that with every victory, there has to be a battle.

Some people have thought that the victorious faith life is a life without battles. But this is not true. Victory assumes that there was a battle. You can't say "I won" when you didn't have an opponent.

You may recently have become a Christian and are living by the faith message, standing on the promises of God. And now it seems as though all hell has broken out against you--sickness has constantly been plaguing you, finances have been scarce, your family is fighting life cats and dogs. Nothing good is happening to you. Why?!

All these problems may be happening to you because the devil is attacking your faith. Since you decided to live by faith, you're a threat to Satan and his kingdom. He's afraid of your faith. As long as you stayed in your dead church and refused to act on the Word of God, you were no threat to Satan. Now that you've been born again, you're in a war with him. Paul affirms the Christian battle: "...We must go through much tribulation to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). The kingdom of God represents the benefits of Calvary--all that Jesus paid for by suffering and dying on the cross: our forgiveness, our healing, our prosperity, our victory over sin and the devil, etc...

It is not strange that we must go through much tribulation to enter the blessings of Calvary, because we have an enemy who's trying to keep us from entering the promises of God.

THE TESTING OF YOUR FAITH

The Bible calls trials and tribulations "the testing of our faith" ( 1 Peter 1:7 and James 1:3). Trials are meant to test your FAITH. With that thought in mind, look carefully at 1 Peter 5:8-9: "...Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. RESIST HIM, standing firm in faith..." You are not to embrace the devil; you are to resist him. Resisting him is the same as resisting his works. What are his works? Keep reading 1 Peter 5:9: "Resist him, standing firm in faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." The works of the devil are SUFFERINGS.

The devil brought all kinds of sufferings to the early church, and he is still brings suffering to many faithful believers today. Unfortunately, many Christians think they are supposed to embrace suffering, because they think it is from God.

Suffering does not come from God--it comes from the devil. To "resist the devil" means to resist suffering. You are not to embrace or accept suffering; you are to RESIST it.

You resist suffering by "STANDING FIRM IN FAITH."

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:16 that faith is a shield...a shield that protects us from the arrows of the enemy. You are supposed to put up the shield of faith so that the devil's arrows (sickness, poverty, problems) don't pierce you, thus sticking with you. God wants you to get rid of your trials. Trials may come, but they are not to stay!

Notice again the entire scripture in Psalm 34:19: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous..." Don't stop here. Keep reading! "BUT THE LORD DELIVERETH HIM OUT OF THEM ALL." This means that troubles should not stay in our life; they should leave! If troubles stay, then you're not delivered.

Remember what the Lord said to His disciples: "...In this world you will have tribulation, BUT BE OF GOOD CHEER: I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD" (John 16:33). We are world overcomers, not world "copers" putting up with our problems. Trials, troubles and tribulations will come, but we are to WIN by resisting these things. Our faith can overcome!

But if you think that troubles and trial automatically make you stronger, then you are sorely deceived. Trials come to test your faith. This means that trials BATTLE your faith. And if your faith is not fighting back, you are not winning.

If your not winning, you're not becoming stronger. God wants us to become stronger by resisting the devil who sent the trial.

Many sincere Christians don't resist trials, because they have been taught that trials automatically make them stronger. They don't realize that trials are the testing of their faith, and that a test can be passed or flunked. You pass the test of faith by OVERCOMING each trial, not by keeping the trial! If your faith doesn't get rid of the trial, then you've failed the test. God permits trials to come so that you will have the opportunity to exercise your faith, thereby becoming stronger.

A trial can be compared to a weight barbell. Imagine yourself lying on your back and having a heavy barbell placed on your chest. Do you become strong by allowing it to stay on your chest? No! You become strong when you push it up and away from you.

Your faith works the same way as your arms. Your faith becomes stronger when you push the trial away from you, not when you allow the trial to stay on you.

So in the end, trials can be beneficial. This is why we can count it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds--because the testing of our faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that we will be mature and complete, not lacking any good thing--when that happens, the trial has ended!

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