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Three

Faith-Testing Trials

The apostle Peter says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

But I am surprised by trying ordeals. To share in Christ’s suffering sounds courageous until I experience trials, and then I wonder why the Lord allows them.

Christ calls us to glorify Him whether we suffer personal affliction or persecution for His sake. But how could I glorify the Lord when I so easily gave way to self-pity and felt spiritually weak? How could the Lord use me to minister to others when my trust in Him was filled with defects and flaws?

I knew the Lord didn’t find fault with me for asking for His help and wisdom to deal with trials. Yet He said I must ask in faith without hesitation or doubting. But my feelings were like surges of sea waves driven by the wind. While I was tossing to and fro between all sorts of questions and conflicting emotions, the Lord couldn’t give me the guidance I so desperately needed (James 1:5-7).

As I read the Matthew passage about the disciples in a storm at sea, I related to their fears. Didn’t Jesus realize that suffering whips up furious storms of uncertainty? He was sleeping, and the winds were rising and raging around me also, and waves of anxiety and fear were sweeping over me. I was struggling to steer the boat and make it safely to shore. The harder I fought to stay in control, the more I sank into the depths, until I felt like crying out, “Wake up, Lord; save me! I’m going to drown!”

“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matt. 8:26a). Jesus’ sharp answer to His disciples and to me shocked me; it seemed so harsh. Then I realized that He was right to reprove me; my faith was small. As I fixed my eyes on Him and took them off the turbulent storms, I was amazed by the miracle He performed. He rebuked winds and waves of turmoil and soothed my battered spirit with His calming peace.

Scripture Reading: James 1:5-6

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Practicing the Spiritual Life

  • In what areas are you struggling with doubts and/or wavering in your faith?


  • This week seek the Lord’s wisdom and guidance for a trying problem and record how He helped you.

Prayer

O Risen Savior, as You asked Your disciples, You are also asking me, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” Lord, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” “Increase my faith!” Then I will not waver through unbelief regarding Your promises, God, but I will be strengthened in my faith and give glory to You, being fully persuaded that You have the power to do what You have promised. Now teach me to number my days aright that I may gain a heart of wisdom. Guide me in the way of wisdom and lead me along straight paths. (Luke 24:38; Mark 9:24b paraphrased; Luke 17:5b not paraphrased; Rom. 4:20-21; Ps. 90:12; Prov. 4:11 paraphrased)

NEXT: Four, Enduring Faith

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