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Tests of faith
- Jacob Ninan
God tests our faith, our trust in Him, to show us what is in our heart. Without that we might fool ourselves thinking we are some giants of faith. Many times when we are tested we get to see that we don't have so much faith as we imagined. But that is not for us to give up. But we can have a more sober estimate of ourselves and go on to place more trust in our Father.
Abraham, who is called the father of faith, did not get that name without tests. First he was asked to leave his father's family and leave for an unknown place which God called the Promised Land. It may be difficult for some of us to leave our comfort zone for any place even when we know where it is. Abraham was not told where, and he had to follow God's guidance step by step. He believed God's promise of a son even when he and his wife were too old, humanly speaking, to have children. He was willing to let his wife Hagar and son Ishmael go, without any hope of seeing them again. He was willing to kill his son of promise, Isaac, as a sacrifice to obey God. Compared to such tests, most of us have had only kindergarten tests.
Joseph had to face 13 long years of 'unfair' deals in life, through no fault of his own, and hold on to the dreams God had given him as a teenager. At the end God's rewards and blessings came through, not only in a material sense, but also in the height of spiritual maturity he attained to (Ge.50:19,20).
Our trials may be different. Sometimes the trial is short but intense, and sometimes the power of the trial is in its apparently unending nature. Sometimes we have others around us who understand what we are going through but unable to help us. Sometimes no one seems to even understand our real struggles. Sometimes trials are unexpected in terms of timing, and sometimes they hit us unexpectedly from people from whom we had expected better. Sometimes the 'why' question haunts us, and sometimes we cry, "When will this end, Lord?" People around us may offer us platitudes, but we are struggling with what God wants from us.
These tests can harden us, and turn us away from God, or they can drive us closer to God. God's desire for us is to get nearer to Him, learn from Him and become a little more transformed into His character (1Pe.1:7;Re.2:10). What helps us to endure is to see by faith what lies at the end of the trial. God stands with us through the trial, with the thermostat in His hands, and encourages us through His word to keep running and not give up (He.10:36). At the finish line of the race there are trophies waiting, and above all, the joy of being rewarded personally by our Saviour (Ac.7:56;Re.11:18).
In the race we are in, statistics show that except for Jesus no one has finished without many trip ups along the way. Failures are unavoidable, considering our weaknesses. But we shouldn't let them cause us to give up. We can get up and run again. The prize here is not for coming first but enduring till the end (Mt.24:13).