“Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour, for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity.
Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God’s strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation.
Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.
Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise Him for that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer impossibilities.”
– Spurgeon, Morning Devotion, 12 November.
I have been thinking about trials these days, tests to the faith. Those of whom had trials through illness, through disaster (that I believe, is God’s Sovereignty that we must trust in the devastating wreckage caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Asia), and then, if He so wills, through recovery… Surely, their faith has been tested and proven as pure gold, refined as gold treasure.
“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 honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
– 1 Peter 1: 5-9
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.”
– James 1: 12
This morning, there was no coincidence that I had come across a BBC article which talked about the statistics of Christian martyrdom in the contemporary world.
“The truth is two thirds of the 2.3 billion Christians in the world today live… in dangerous neighbourhoods. They are often poor. They often belong to ethnic, linguistic and cultural minorities. And they are often at risk.”
How are we, can we, get alongside our fellow brothers and sisters in these various parts of the world? Does purchasing a book from Christian Aid, knowing that the profits would go some way towards helping needy Christians elsewhere, suffice? No, it would not.
It would not.
“The LORD hears the prayers of the righteous” – Proverbs 15: 29, Psalm 34: 17, James 5: 17.
May I just add one more to this basket of a beckon to prayer and faith, which certainly, surely, proves there was no coincidence.
On the 32nd day of the devotional from Bible Gateway, “40-day journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer”, that which falls on today, the 12th of November, he writes:
“Intercessory prayer is also a daily service Christians owe to God and one another. Those who deny their neighbors prayers of intercession deny them a service Christians are called to perform. Furthermore, it is clear that intercessory prayer is not something general and vague, but something very concrete. It is interested in specific persons and specific difficulties and therefore specific requests. The more concrete my intercessory prayer becomes the more promising it is.
All this proves that intercessory prayer is a gift of God’s grace for every Christian community and for every Christian. Because God has made us such an immeasurably great offer here, we should accept it joyfully. The very time we give to intercession will turn out to be a daily source of new joy in God and in the Christian congregation.
“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.” 1 Samuel 12:23.
“But let all who take refuge in You rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread Your protection over them,
so that those who love Your name may exult in You.” Psalm 5:11.
Pray that your community of faith in particular, and all communities of faith in general, would experience the joy in God and in each other that comes from the service of daily prayer on behalf of their members.”
– 40-day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Bible Gateway Devotionals
Let us be children of Prayer.
There is no time more urgent, than now.