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"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation." I Peter 4:12-13.
Our faith is tested not that God will learn if our faith is enduring but that we will learn if it is enduring. The one sure proof that we possess saving faith is that our faith "endures to the end." (Matthew 10:22; 24:13.)
There are three things that can occur in our life that will test the very fabric of our soul. These things are triumph, trial and tragedy,
This might be reflected in our prosperity, success, acclaim or status. One blessed with these might give praise and glory to God as did Abraham, Joshua, David and many others, whereas another might take these blessings and give no thought to praise God for His goodness.
An example of such a person is depicted by our Lord in a parable. Notice:
"Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ’What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ’I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ’Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry. Luke 12:16-19.
When a person faces a trial in their life they may draw nearer to God or they may drift away from Him. Demas was one who retreated in the face of trial. Paul describes his defection in 2 Timothy 4:10: “For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”
In contrast we see Paul, amidst severe trial, maintain his strong faith and continue on in the service of the Lord Jesus. Notice:
"We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." II Corinthians 4:8-9.
"For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus." II Corinthians 7:5-6.
Many pastors, if not all pastors, have seen church members who once were regular in their attendance and support of the church, “fall out with God” when tragedy touches their lives. Many become hardened, turning from God and His Church.
But tragedy can bring out the best in us. It can draw us closer to God and deepen our commitment to Him. Consider: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." Job 13:15. Job is a classic example of the child of God whose faith and love for God survived tragedy after tragedy. Stripped of all his material possessions; the loss of his ten children and enduring the scorn of his wife who urged him to "curse God and die", Job maintained his faith without wavering, declaring: "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and He shall stand at last on the earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God." Job 19:25-26.
IV. WHAT SHALL WE
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