“The ultimate test of faith isn’t how loudly you praise God in happy times but how deeply you trust him in dark times.” ~ Rick Warren
At various times throughout our lives, God will seek to move our faith out the realm of mere mental theory and and allow it to be tested.
That’s because faith isn’t meant to be something ambiguous that only dwells in our minds, but something practically applied to our everyday lives.
Because what good is faith if it is never scrutinized? How can we know we possess faith if it is never probed? How can we know the quality of our faith if it is never employed?
Bottom line, our faith must, from time to time, be taken out for a test drive.
Typically, the “faith tests” we face come in the form of obstacles, challenges, diversions, mysteries, pain, and suffering.
Sometimes we pass the tests God allows into our lives. (If so, hallelujah!)
And sometimes our tests of faith show us we have more growing to do.
The apostle Peter wrote about allowing our faith to go under the microscope in his first epistle. The recipients of his letter were being persecuted for taking a stand for Jesus. Life wasn’t easy. Endurance was waning. Thus, Peter offered these words of both encouragement and exhortation:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 CSB)
If faith is never tested, we can never be quite sure it exists. But as faith is tested, it reveals itself through our character and conduct.
The testing of our faith is not only for proving the existence of faith, but also for growing of faith. James said as much:
Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-3 CSB)
Simply put, the more we practice faith, the stronger our faith can become.
It’s a bit like going to the gym. The more we run, the farther we can run. The more weight we lift, the stronger our muscles become.
The testing or trials we undergo come in various ways. Becoming a Christian will often require us to move out of our comfort zones and into the unknown. Every test, every trial, and every difficulty is not intended to break us but to shape us, form us, and make us into the image of the Son of God, as “he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb. 5:8)
Sometimes I wonder if we put too much energy into running from trials, rather than spending time building our faith. Rather than try to protect our faith, we should be willing to allow it to be tested to make sure its there!
I think its important to note that whatever trials God has ordained for us during the course of our lives, we will ultimately be made to stand by God’s power, and not our own. God gifts us with faith. And if we allow, He will grow our faith that it might glorify Him and bless those around us.
When we experience the storms of life, we should be like the tree that digs its roots ever more deeply for a greater grip in the earth. We must “dig our roots” more deeply into God’s Word and cling to His promises so we can weather whatever storms come against us.