Faith Busters, the testing of your faith
A word came to me this morning as I was going about my daily business. As a retired person living on a fixed income, it seems that we are always wrestling with debt. Some may have prepared for this phase of life but others, not as well. A word to the wise would be to do all you can to prepare for a time when you are retired and living on a fixed income. If you have invested or saved for such a time in your life then debt might not be your main issue. Debt is among the many things that challenge our faith. I call these my “Faith Busters.” James, the brother of Jesus says this:
“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. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
This is an appropriate scripture for my message today. It’s not always that we did something wrong that causes certain things to happen as they do. As we face trials and tribulations of many kinds, we must handle the situations while holding on to our faith… however strong or weak it may be. One of the greatest of the faith busters for me is that of debt. Another is sickness, tragedies, temptations and the like. As James said, ‘when you face such trials you know that the testing of your faith is also at hand.’ As believers, we must turn to God and place our trust in Him. However, as the burdens of life take over your faith could be stretched to the point of almost breaking. For me, this nagging debt seems to corrupt my mind, body, soul, and spirit. It appears that the Lord is using this item to teach me something valuable about my faith.
I recall the apostle Paul praying for God to remove this thorn in his side and God refused, saying; “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I’m not sure what the thorn was that Paul was referencing, but scripture says: “ I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Paul continued to say that he asked God three times to remove this thorn and that is when God replied to Paul about His grace. Many Christians would look up to Paul very highly for the role he played in establishing the Church and spreading the gospel of Christ. We also learned of Paul’s history of previously persecuting the new believers of Christ. Apparently Paul was smart and good at what he did. By all accounts, he was very full of himself. Because of his great talent, a stumbling block was placed in front of him just to keep him grounded. There was no doubt that Paul was a true Christian, but this thorn in his flesh kept him humble.
Yes, it was my lack of preparation that allowed me to be in my current situation. Perhaps this is how God uses this stumbling block to remind me to stay grounded in my faith and continue to place my trust in Him. Life is not always easy. At times you might want to give up. It is through such trials and that God is working on certain flaws that He sees in us. Obviously God is always working for the good of those who love Him… the ones He accepts as His children. My debt that seems to constantly pester me, but it drives me into the arms of God. Had it not been debt perhaps something else would have been used to work on another character flaw that God sees in me. The main point is to consider it pure joy that God uses these painful and troubling things to work on our flaws in order to perfect us for His kingdom. Even though we might not understand all the things that God allows in order to achieve His divine will for us, we should always seek His wisdom that will allow us to accept whatever He is doing knowing that it is for our good. Through such measures, He is making us whole and complete, not lacking anything.
Currently, my immediate faith buster would be worrying about debt. How I handle the situation is where God is building upon my faith and trust in Him. The first step would be to turn to God and seek His counsel. What seems impossible to me is not impossible for God. Knowing this to be true I must learn to hold on long enough for God to work His measures? The question for me is; will I breakdown before help arrives? Will God just allow this thorn to remain in me indefinitely? Only God knows!
I am convinced that I must trust in God with all my heart, soul and with all my might. Whatever God allows to happen, He would already have known. Therefore He uses the opportunity to produce perseverance in me. Am I strong enough to endure whatever the challenge? I really don’t know, but God knows. My faith is no longer in me, but instead in God. He told me to have faith and trust in Him so regardless of what happens from this point; it is totally in God’s most capable hands. For me, there is only ‘gain’ for my eternal soul. If God’s grace was good enough for Paul, certainly a greater man than me, it is sufficient for me as well. There but for by the grace of God go I.
I share this with my fellow believers because most of us face things in life that are tough, even to the point that it might feel unbearable at times. Such things can corrupt your faith, even if you thought it was strong. It could be that God wants to take our reliance away from the self and place it within Him. He knows the larger picture, the one that is eternal. Somehow we must allow perseverance to finish its work in us in order to make us whole and complete, not lacking anything. Lord, please have mercy upon these bodies of weak faith? Your everlasting grace is sufficient for me… Selah!