– Phillips Brooks
Devotional:3 Ways Trials Strengthen our Faith
Tested and Trusted
I have heard that a faith that is not tested cannot be trusted and I believe that’s true. A Christian who has endured trials is more able to help others endure them by relating how they came to be much stronger through their trials. This is what James was explaining in James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Wouldn’t you test drive a car? Almost every new product you can think of is tested to see if it works.
Humble and Persistent
A woman whose daughter was demon possessed came to Jesus and Jesus “did not answer her a word” (Matt 15:23a) and His disciples were no help as they “came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us” (Matt 15:23b). Jesus told the desperate woman that He was “sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24). In her great need “she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me. And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” (Matt 15:25-27). After all this, the woman had not given up on begging for Jesus’ help and He says in response to her persistence “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly” (Matt 15:28). Jesus answered this woman’s desperate plea because she believed Jesus could help her, she humbled herself before Him, and she was persistent in her pleas. This woman’s faith was tried or tested and her strength of faith in Jesus was telling or revealing that she believed He could heal her daughter.
Refined by Fire
When we undergo trials it drives us to our knees and that’s a good thing because there we can find help but Peter writes about how our faith is tested by the fire of our trials as he writes in 1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Did you know that when a refiner of gold refines it by fire to remove the impurities, he heats it up to the point that all of the impurities are burned up or float to the top and are removed. When does the refiner know when the gold is pure? When he sees the reflection of his face in it or when the gold literally looks like him. That is also the purpose of trials…to test the genuineness of it…to see if it’s real or not and to make us look more like Christ.
A faith that has been tested is trustworthy and genuine and sometimes forces us to remove unpleasant impurities from our lives. That’s why Philipps Brooks’ statement makes sense that we are not to pray “for a lighter load, but for a stronger back.”