“I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” Psalm 91:2”
A number of years ago, I found myself asking whether life was essentially a pleasant journey with the occasional painful trial along the way, or whether it was more of one long, arduous test with occasional moments of peace.
I have since come to think that for the young, it often appears more like the former and for those of us who have seen the passing of more years, it seems more the latter.
This was and is in the context of a culture that still knows the remnants of blessing that came with the faith and faithfulness of so many who had gone before us.
In other cultures the perception might be much different. But in every culture life has its trials; its tests to be endured. The way we approach them either leaves us in a weakened condition or stronger than ever.
One thing is certain, sooner or later everyone who trusts in Christ, will have that trust tested in a significant (and often painful) way. Each of us is a little different in this respect and something thing that severely tests one person is but a hiccup for another.
Even in areas where the test would be severe for any believer, such as the loss of a child, a spouse, a serious accident with permanent consequences, one whose faith is strong may seem to be tested for only a short time while the for another, whose faith is not as strong, may struggle for a long time before coming out the other side.
But one thing of which we can be certain is that our faith will be tested.
Our Lord told His people in Ezekiel 21, “Testing will surely come.”
There is purpose behind the testing of our faith, of course. God is not a precocious, whimsical God who delights his fancy at our expense and James explains that purpose.
He writes, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (Chapter one)
We all know that in the raising of children, the ultimate goal is for them to reach adulthood as mature individuals prepared to face life’s trials and demands.
It is much the same in our spiritual lives. When we are born again, we are born into a spiritual world to which we had been dead. At that point Paul says, we are babes in Christ.
The Lord’s purpose for that new life is that we grow into mature, right-thinking adults; full of faith and able to trust Him in all areas of thought and life.
It is to this end, James says, that He allows us to be tested, that our endurance may be fully developed, so that we become perfect and complete in Him… needing nothing else.”
Can you say with the psalmist, “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”
Pastor David M. Grey
Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church