"Why does God choose to test our faith so much?"
Simply answered: Because we may not experience the love of God if we are not tested. Times of testing, trials, and pruning have a way of leading us to Love.
Although the testing of our faith can be painful, there is a positive reward on the other side: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).
In Romans, Chapter 5:1-5, we find a curious progression: tribulations > perseverance > character > hope > love. Have you ever wondered why hope is positioned toward the end? Shouldn't it come a bit earlier, say, as we are initially faced with and undergo a trial?
I tried to analyze the progression in more detail and by personal example. I have beseeched the Lord in prayer over one particular, personal issue to which He does not seem to hear or respond. It feels most frustrating to me. I agonize my way through some days. Ever been there? Yet in tribulation -- as we hold tightly in prayer because our foundation is sure and helps to keep us grounded -- we walk out the call to presevere one step at a time. We "do not swerve from our deliberate purpose and loyalty to faith and piety" (BLB).
What is the result of this type of perseverance? Proven character. We show the world proof positive that though we are under trial, we do not waver. If our faith in God is not experiential, well, we may not have faith at all. Undergoing trial and tribulation is experiential. It's painful and we feel it. When we travail, we are forced to look beyond ourselves for relief. Character is erected by means of a scaffolding structure called "trial."
We haven't had a second to hope as we are too busy persevering. Our character, in the meantime, surfaces. That which is most important to us is being revealed. Look at it this way. If we are toppled off our raft in the cold, white water rapids of the Colorado River, we are suddenly aware that we want to live. We persevere through utter chaos, struggling to get a breath and stay afloat, until God willing, we are pulled back into the raft. Survival instinct? Sure...but when likened unto emotional or spiritual trial...what do we call it then? We call it character being revealed through trial and perseverance. We find out what is most important to us.
And the result? Out of tribulation, perseverance, and character, we find Hope. Often we think of hope as looking forward. Perhaps sometimes it is a looking back that fuels the flame of our faith. Once my daughter nearly died in a horrific automobile accident early one March morning of 2011. She was transported via helicopter to the University of Kentucky emergency room.
Let me tell you. Hope met me crumpled on my knees on the cold, bathroom floor of her hospital room some 10 hours later as I literally wailed into bath towels in an attempt to muffle the sound of my agonizing cries of relief, exhaustion, bewilderment, fear, and inexpressible gratitude. I shudder to think of meeting up with Hope had my daughter died. On that day, God allowed the progression from trial to hope to be a matter of hours. Sometimes the progression takes years, and it's not always pretty.
We are told that "hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom. 1:5). The Holy Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts as a result of our hoping. We now come full circle: trial > perseverance > character > hope > love.
Can we learn to embrace trial? Can we learn to exult, glory, and rejoice in our tribulations? Can we rest through our pain and suffering knowing that hope and love await us? May we grow, be refined, changed, and tempered. If you are feeling hopeless, it may just be a matter of time. Can you accept the call to persevere under trial? Can the "fingers" of your charcter grip to God and not let go? When your character is ready, Hope will appear and Love will lead you on.
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial;
for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life
which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
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