November 24, 2004
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…
There are various kinds of trials in life that come in different seasons, sizes, and significance. Sometimes, they even come to us all at once.
I heard about a group of Boy Scouts who were out on a camping trip. It hadn’t been dark too long until mosquitoes were crawling everywhere. The scouts were slapping and fighting mosquitoes off, and finally they decided to pull their blankets over their heads to ward them off.
One of the boys looked out from under his blanket to check out the condition and he saw hundreds of fireflies, or lightning bugs. He emphatically stated, “Guys, we might as well give up. They’re coming at us with flashlights!”
Maybe you feel like your trials are pouring in. It may seem as though some of them are ridiculous or overwhelming. Some of our wounds are even self-inflicted, and others are a result of Satan’s fury. But I can promise you this: No matter what kind of trial or catastrophe comes your way, the hand of God permits it. That’s the kind of God we believe in.
God is not out of touch in your life when trials come along—He is in control. As a follower of Jesus, we are providentially watched and cared for, and the hand that holds us is a nail-pierced hand. He knows what is best for us, and James tells us those reasons in the first chapter of his book.
One is to prove the reality of our faith. In Peter, we learn that the idea of trials has to do with putting metals in the fire to remove the dross and impurities. And so, when we’re in the fire, or our faith is being tested, the purifying of the heart takes place.
How do you know if your faith is real? Some may say, “Well, it’s real because I was baptized.” The truth is that baptism doesn’t prove faith—it only professes it. Others say, “Well, I am a church member and that proves I have faith.” Once again, being a church member shows that you practice your faith, but it doesn’t prove faith. It is only when we come to our wits end, and discover the true tests and trials of life, that we find the reality of our faith.
YOU CAN FAKE BAPTISM OR CHURCH MEMBERSHIP—
BUT YOU CAN’T FAKE FAITH WHEN YOU’RE IN THE FIRE!
YOU’VE EITHER GOT IT, OR YOU DON’T.