Everything in your life is going to hell in a hand basket. House problems, marriage problems, business problems, kid problems, mother-in-law problems, money problems, boss problems. “Maybe God is testing your faith,” says your friend.
So your loving Heavenly Father puts you on a personal version of “Survivor” to see if you’re really a Christian. To see how much you can take. God the “Faith Tester.” Or maybe He’s your “Personal Trainer God.” He’s putting you through your paces like a CrossFit instructor who’s had a bad argument at home. He’s working you out, over and over, to make your faith grow stronger.
A little weird.
When bad stuff happens, thousands of Christians (and non-Christians for that matter) believe God is ‘balancing the accounts.’ The stuff you’ve done wrong … or bad … well, that’s coming back to get you now. Your ‘yin’ is balancing out your ‘yang’. After all, doesn’t the Bible say you’ll reap what you sow? God must be the “Enforcer God,” bringing justice to your life somehow based on your performance.
All this started with a verse in the book of James (chapter 1, verses 2 & 3) where He says:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
James is talking about how to endure tough stuff and dangling the carrot of endurance (or patience) as the reward. He never blamed God for setting up the ‘tough stuff.’ Peter picks up similar words in I Peter 1:7: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”
He’s pointing to the value of our enduring the tough stuff as a praise to God. That He gets glory when we persevere through Jesus. A benefit of having our faith tested and having Him bring us through is honor to our perfect Father, just like the father of a winning triathlete would get glory from the perseverance of his son. But the value of these tests accrues to us. Ourselves.
Read what Paul had to say about it …
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?” – 2 Corinthians 13:5
We can mouth the words and talk about trusting Him when everything is peachy, but when it really gets hard, we’re the first ones to know if our faith is real … or not. If we abandon our faith, throw God under the bus and disavow Him, we pretty well know it wasn’t real to start with. We can doubt God, be angry at God, question His love for us … all very natural responses to disasters. But the more you cling to Him versus question Him, the stronger your faith is. And you’re the one who knows that in your heart.
Think and Pray
What are your thoughts about God when you’re in the middle of something really hard? Consider that God wants to confound the people around you by showing them what trust and contentment look like in the face of trial and hardship.
Lord, if it’s Your will, take me out of this hard place. Yet not my will, but Yours be done. Give me strength to preserver. Amen.
Regi Campbell is an experienced investor and entrepreneur by trade. But his real passion is mentoring younger men. In 2007, Regi founded Radical Mentoring to help encourage and equip mentors and churches to launch mentoring groups. He has written four books: About My Father’s Business, Mentor Like Jesus, What Radical Husbands Do, and Radical Wisdom. Regi currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife of 47 years, Miriam.