Faith Under Fire: Why Our Faith Must Be Tested

burning-dark-fire-110867.jpg

“A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted”

When faced with a situation that tests your faith in God, how do you respond? Many times, our initial prayer is for God to deliver us from the situation. We may even beg Him for it. But I’ve learned that God doesn’t deliver us from a test because the purpose of the test is actually to deliver us.

It can be difficult to understand why a good and perfect God allows us to go through trying situations. The reason is simple: sanctification. God is transforming us into the image of His son, Jesus Christ.. We are tested for our good; for the development of our faith. Testing is not something we should despise because it’s a chance to show the genuineness of our faith and glorify our Lord.

Testing Reveals What is in Us

This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'" - Malachi 3:3

The bible tells us that God refines and tests us in the same way silver and gold are refined. To understand what that looks like practically, you first have to understand how silver is refined. In short, silver is placed in a fire and the silversmith watches it very carefully. He knows the silver is ready to be removed when he can clearly see his reflection (or image) in the metal.

When you’re in a trial or test, does God see His image and character in you? Or are your carnal ways of thinking still leading your behavior? Do you exhibit the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control,etc…) or are you led by your flesh? If you think you’re ready to be in a leadership position, but someone (who is less qualified) is promoted instead of you, do you doubt God or trust Him? Do you slander that person’s name to everyone around you or do you ask God to remove the bitterness and still serve at your job as unto the Lord? When faced with a test, what is in you will come out of you. How we respond determines if God moves us forward in His will or allows us to spend a bit more time in our current season.

Testing Removes Impurities From us

As you grow in your faith you’ll begin passing more and more tests. It’s a great feeling, but even though you’re on the right track, don’t get too comfortable. There is still work to be done. You’ve been refined like silver, but now it’s time to be tested like gold. Gold is a metal that’s naturally filled with impurities and must be repeatedly put into the furnace for purification. With each pass through the fire it becomes more pure.  This is why there are different karats of gold (8,16,24). The higher the karat the more pure it is, with 24 karat being the purest. If we want our faith in God to pure and indestructible like gold, our faith has to go through the fire again and again. Although we’ve been made right with God through our faith in Jesus, the remnant of our sinful nature is still within us. Our sanctification doesn’t happen all at once, it’s a process.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. - 1 Peter 4:12-13

This is where a lot of us get discouraged and give up. We don’t know when the tests will come, how long they will last, or how intense they will be.  Like the Israelite’s in the desert, we can grow weary and start to believe God has forsaken us in the very place He brought us to. In our weakness and fear, we attempt to take matters into our own hands instead of waiting on God (See Exodus 32).

If your faith doesn't cost you anything it's because it s not worth anything

We’re called to pick our own cross, deny ourselves, and follow Christ. This requires dying to our own desires and ways of thinking. The tests we go through are design to kill our flesh so we learn to rely on the Holy Spirit.  It’s a fight not to go back to self-medicating or finding our worth in a relationship. It’s a struggle to stay faithful at work when you’re being overlooked or discredited. Trials feels like the complete opposite of what life in Christ should be, but it’s not.  The test is designed to grow your faith, free you from bondage, and increase your dependency on God. Shallow beliefs and idols won’t last in the trial, they’ll will be ruined by the fire. Only what is true and pure will remain.

Friends, don’t fear the fire - the tests and trials. The fire isn’t designed to destroy you, but to remove everything that’s been holding you back from God’s perfect will. If you stay steadfast, you will glorify God and come to know His power in a brand new way. Your triumph will be a testimony to believers and unbelievers alike. Now this isn’t to say that it will get easier, but you will become stronger, wiser, and not as easily swayed by storms that come your way.

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