Refinement and Self Revelation: The Blessing of Trials

As a little girl I remember hearing and loving the bible stories of Daniel in the lion’s den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. I marveled at such great faith! I thought that I would love to be a part of such a miraculous story.  It was only as I grew older and more mature in my faith that I realized that great faith is only revealed through great trials.

 We marvel at the faith of biblical figures and other heroes of the faith because we wonder, “Would I have that kind of faith?” If we are never put in a situation that tests our faith, how will we ever know the depth and degree of our faith?  Just like taking a final exam in school that reveals what we really know about a subject, tests in “God’s school of faith” reveal what we really believe about God. That is one of the reasons that the Lord allows us to go through the trials of life. None of us know the faith that we have until it is put to the test. Trials reveal to us where our faith may be lacking, or if it is even stronger than we had thought it to be. 

Daniel discovered his faith in God was real and he was able to endure and pass with flying colors the test of faith when he was thrown into the lion’s den.  I am sure that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thought they had faith, but they knew they had miracle-working faith when they were put to the test and had to determine if they would bow to a false god or endure the flames of the fiery furnace.

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 But what happens if we are put to the test and fail? The disciple Peter claimed that even if everyone else deserted Jesus, he would die rather than deny Him. However, God revealed to Peter that instead of being willing to die by being identified with Jesus, he denied three times that he even knew Him. His denial didn’t surprise Jesus; He knows what is in the heart of man. However, his denial revealed to Peter that he loved himself more than he loved Jesus, and that his faith was weaker than he’d thought.

 God’s goal is to refine and purify our faith.  To that end He will lead us through trials designed for that purpose. That was His goal for Peter, and it is what He desires for you and me as well. Following the Resurrection, Jesus did not chastise Peter for his denial. Instead, He asked him three times whether he loved Him. In addition, Jesus challenged Peter to go forth and prove his love for Him by “feeding His sheep.” History proves Peter was more than faithful to do just that!

 Following Jesus’ Ascension, Peter demonstrated his renewed and bold faith by refusing to kowtow to the demands of the same religious leaders who had called for Jesus’ death, knowing that it could cost him his life.  His faith in Jesus enabled him to work countless miracles, including healing the lame, raising the dead, and preaching a sermon that led to the salvation of 3000 people. His life became totally devoted to preaching the gospel. Ultimately, Peter made the greatest statement possible regarding his faith—he chose the cross and was martyred rather than deny Jesus again. Like Peter, when we are confident of Jesus’ love for us and know His trustworthy character, we will be filled with miracle-working faith that overcomes our fear of man and shifts our focus from a temporal to an eternal one.

 Most everyone would say they would like to have miracle-working faith. The question is, are you willing to go through the trials that are necessary to reveal such faith? And is your faith strong enough that it would pass the test of the “fire” of trials?

 

 Written by JVG