When We Are Tested

Scripture Reading:

     “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2–4 NIV).

Commentary:

     This is beautiful Scripture.  The word perseverance here in the NIV is translated as patience in the King James Version: “let patience have her perfect work.”  The original word in the Greek is hypomonē, which Strong’s Dictionary defines as cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy:—enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).  The idea of patient continuance (waiting) is especially applicable to the day-to-day challenges of raising children and tending to a home and growing a strong family unit.  It really should come as no surprise to us that we face different sorts of tough things as we move along this path—it’s what it means to grow up and for us (and not just our children) to become spiritually mature as a result of living this life and growing in God day by day.

     We might not be literally facing death by flame as some of the early Christians did, but we each have our own fiery trial to go through, what the Bible refers to as a refining fire, a purifying fire.  May we let God do all he wants to do in us and through us.  The first two references relate to God’s refining fire of us, and the last bit most certainly refers to the suffering, persecution, and literal fiery death that some of the early Christians faced.  When we keep things in perspective, it helps us to better persevere in our own life.    

     “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10 ESV).

     “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts” (Probers 17:3 ESV).

     “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  Instead, be very glad–for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.  So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.  If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.  But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian.  Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!  For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?  And also, ‘If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?’  So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you” (1 Peter 4:12–19 NLT).

     Even the lyrics from “Immortals”  by Fall Out Boy has the right idea (my kids like Big Hero 6, which is how we came across the song): “Sometimes the only pay off for having any faith, / Is when it’s tested again and again everyday.”  We can believe that the more we persevere for God’s glory, the bigger the pay off will be for God’s glory.   

Prayer of Response:

     Dear Jesus, help me to be grateful for these times when my faith is being tested.  Thank you for growing perseverance in me.  Grant me the perspective I need to keep going and to keep trying even in the face of great strain.  Show me how to exercise the patience you have put in me.  Remind me to lean on you even when I don’t think I need to—and most especially when I forget that I can lean on you to get me through the tough times.  I give up my haste and I take on your pace, which is much slower than I like or am used to.  Help me to stay in step with you as you are giving me this opportunity to have perseverance produced in my life.     

Confession of Faith:     

     I will be happy when I face trials because it means that my faith is being tested.  The testing of my faith is what produces perseverance.  I will let perseverance finish its work so that I may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2–4 NIV).

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