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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hard Times Make Strong Believers

Every trial we face is allowed by God. He could have kept us in perfect safety and perfect health while enjoying an abundance of resources to indulge in, yet He often allows the tragedies and hardships to fall upon us. He allows us to fail even when our hearts seek fully to follow Him. He is often silent when we desperately want to hear from Him.

Some people will think that God is not as loving as His reputation has reported Him to be. They think that a loving God must make sure that His children have everything that they ever want. They cannot understand that over indulgence results in childishness. They do not realize that struggles mature us.

Isn't it interesting that it was Satan who pointed that out? He stood before God and said that Job would curse God if His protection and provision was removed. Satan knew what few Christians seem to know. There is no mature faith like a faith under fire.

We should be able to realize this by the examples God has provided for us in the physical world. A muscle gets stronger if it is challenged often. Our minds get sharper when we are presented with problems which must be solved. Our resolve gets stronger when we work toward a goal. Thus, our spirits mature when we face trials in this world.

I read recently of a wealthy man who did not leave his vast wealth to his children or grandchildren. He passed it to what would become his many great-grandchildren. I suppose he was afraid that this wealth would corrupt his offspring and so spread it out to so many that no one of them could do nothing and be nothing because of this inheritance. He knew what has happened to so many people who lost everything because they have won huge lotteries. He knew that easily begotten gains remove all gratitude. He knew that hard work makes people strong. He knew that he would be destroying some of his loved ones if they suddenly came into such a fortune without any work.

The joy that James says we should have when we have such trials comes from the knowledge that these trials have come with God's permission. They, therefore, are there to grow us into maturity. They will reveal God as He works in our lives and our circumstances.

Some people apparently work harder than others to have the same success. Some people learn quicker than others. That is not always the reason that some have more hardship than others. Some of these will have grown so much with a challenge that God will give them greater challenges. Their trials may not come because of their unfaithfulness but because of their steadfast devotion and endurance.  They will have been given more because they have produced more. They will have learned to truly be full of joy when trials come their way.

I have met some people like this. They are so close to God that they carry their own atmosphere. They never lord over others their relationship with God nor do they claim to be better than any other person. They simply have a maturity in the faith that astounds the average believer.

There is some trepidation within me when I say that I want to be like one of these people. I know that my heart longs both for a maturity in my faith and an ease in my living. The two are simply incompatible. The idea that you can sit on the couch and get yourself in great physical shape is snake oil sold by unscrupulous ads on television. The only way to get in great shape is through challenging the muscles. The only way  to become spiritually mature is through faithful endurance of the trials God lays before us.

Yet, if this blog has any truth in it; if I am true to what I say, I must follow my purpose and give God glory. The glory that God would have me give is one of a spiritually mature man who is able to express his faith through the trials he has endured. Hard times make strong believers.

Be joyful for this.

James 1:2-4 (ESV)  
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

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