Sunday, August 1, 2010
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:2-4 (NIV)
There’s a beautiful place that our trials will take us if we’ll have the right approach to them. The Word says that the end of a matter is better than the beginning (Ecclesiastes 7:8) and a mature believer is the end goal that James was encouraging every believer to attain to.
The only way to achieve maturity is by the testing of our faith. Oh how I wish there was another way, but we all know that --- if, what we say we believe is not tested - an inmature believer is what we remain and that‘s not God‘s plan for us. So, how is ones faith tested? The word “testing” in the NIV is “trying” in the KJV which means the proving or that by which something is tried or proved, a test.
In order for faith to be real or proven in YOU, it has to undergo a test. Let’s say you make a claim that you can outrun all your friends. I guarantee you… someone will ask you to prove it. You may expect people to simply take you at your word, but it doesn’t work that way and quite honestly - it shouldn’t. You, personally will never know if that claim can stand if you never prove it by running a race against all who oppose you. Hopefully, you’ll come out a winner, But, you’d never really know unless you proved your claim to others and more importantly to yourself.
That’s how it is with what we believe about our relationship with our God. Faith in this passage is the Greek word Pistis which is the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ.
We can say we are people of faith, but this belief will be tried and tested by God until we become mature and complete in Christ, lacking nothing. How will our claims be proven true if we never welcome the tests?
A few years ago, as a believer in Christ, my faith was being tried once again. Even after years of infertility and God’s reward of our son Travis Jordan through Invitro-Fertilization, we still longed for another child and IVF was no longer an option. I was standing on what God had spoken to me out of Psalm 113:9, “…he settles the barren woman as a happy mother of children.” We were faced with questions on how we could afford the costs of adoption vs. new incurred debt, yet we believed God had another child for us through adoption. How to reconcile the reality with the Word of God was the test.
One day a friend of ours boldly said to us…. “If adoption is what God has said to do, then why worry about money.” I’m soo thankful for his boldness because later standing in their driveway, I said to my husband, “Do we believe what we’ve been singing for weeks now in Church?”, which was “All Things Are Possible,” by Darlene Zscheck. It’s one thing to sing or speak something, yet quite another to walk it out. God wants us to see for ourselves what we truly possess. It’s merely a confession until it’s proven to be your heart’s possession. We concluded that if we said we believed all things were possible with God then we must act on that belief.
So, that was the first step and the first words out of our mouth to the Case Worker at the Adoption Agency. We told her that we didn’t know how we would pay for the adoption, but we served a God who would provide. During this time of standing strong, something remarkable began to happen INSIDE of us. Just as James says, when your faith is tested or tried, you begin to develop steadfastness, constancy, and endurance, also referred to as perseverance. If you can imagine a picture with me - it was like Chuck and I locked ourselves in a room with God and would not let anyone or anything in UNTIL we saw God’s proving of our faith develop into our maturity. We were deliberate and loyal to act on what we believed about God and His promise to us.
Was it an easy ride from there? No, in fact, there was more testing to endure. But, when the trying of our faith had run its course, Chuck and I were more mature in Christ. In March of 2000, we welcomed our little Ariel into our home and our hearts. The money for the adoption came from sources we could never have imagined because we allowed the proving of our faith to produce something good in us. Every time we experienced another setback, we went to the Lord and to our faithful praying friends and family and asked for more grace to believe Him. We asked for the strengthening of our hearts as we waited for God to do what only He could do. We saw it through to the end and we weren’t disappointed.
Ten years later, faced with more testing of our faith, I remember the history I have with my faithful Father above and within. He has made me who I am. I am stronger now than I was ten years ago because of the testing of my faith. I believe I possess more of what I confess because I’ve been running the race expecting to finish my course by keeping the pace alongside Him. One day, He’ll give me the Victor’s crown, but I’ll know it really doesn’t belong to me and I’ll cast it at His feet as I bow and thank Him for proving my faith genuine.
Peter said it much better, “These (trials) have come so that your faith ---- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire --- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. ….for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” 1 Peter 1:7-9.
May Christ be revealed as your faith is proven genuine!