See, I will refine and test my people. Jeremiah 9:7 NIV
Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
The young man was conscientious about his faith. He read the Bible every day. He prayed for forgiveness for himself and made intercessions for others. He was kind toward all people. He worshiped regularly, and made generous offerings for the Lord’s work. He was kind to his neighbor, faithful in support of his elderly parents, paid his bills on time, and was a model citizen. In every way he was a godly, faithful, good person.
When he experienced troubles – which he did, just like everyone else – he did not moan or complain. He simply trusted himself to God, asked for help along the path, and continued to make his way through life.
One day he read the passage from 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” he also read how troubles make us stronger.
In his prayers that evening, he told God, “Don’t you think I’m strong enough?” Perhaps you’ve experienced that kind of struggle. You do right. You know you’re not perfect, but you do love God and your neighbor. And still troubles come. You realize that being good does not pay off – at least not in terms of some sort of insurance policy against troubles. But it’s difficult not to think that somehow God ought to go a little easier of you if you’re really trying to tow the line, and follow his ways.
If we will allow it, God will help us understand that there is a need for growth, refinement, and tempering that can only come through struggle and hardship. But even better than growth and a deepened faith, God promises that those who are faithful will a crown of life reserved for those who love him.
Sometimes our love for God is shown in resisting temptation. Sometimes our love for God is shown in our daily faithfulness. Sometimes our love for God is shown in the fiery furnace of affliction.
Recently I’ve been praying for a friend of a friend who has suffered several strokes and mini-strokes, infections, and a roller-coaster of good, bad, good reports daily. A group of us have been praying for him throughout this ordeal – which started on Christmas Day morning. I suggested to the group that, “As we pray we might recall that god delights in our prayers, and that as he answers our prayers not only will Lee be blessed, but we will be strengthened in our faith. May it be so for god’s glory and our and Lee’s Good.”
God’s faithfulness is something we can ever rely on. As he answers our prayers and strengthens us in our trials. For that we can thank and praise God.