“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
When I was young I used to think something along the lines that if you were a true follower of Christ that bad things would not happen to you. I thought that you were somehow exempt from things like pain, sickness, poverty, etc. However the more I read the Bible the less I found this to be true. People of the faith have always endured hardships and troubles, in fact it seems like the greater the person of faith the more trying the troubles were that they had to overcome. Also, the stronger the faith the better equipped they were to handle their unique situations. In many cases that is what made them Heroes.
I think of people like Abraham who left everything and everyone he knew to follow God. When he came to his new land he was told he would have a son. He believed it, but year after year went by and that faith had to be harder and harder to maintain. It was a slow painful and formative process with some stumbles along the way.
I think of David and how after he was anointed king as a boy he still had to wait years to actually sit as king over Israel. Many of those years were spent hiding for his life in caves and the wilderness and even fighting as a mercenary for the Philistines. He must have been wondering what in the world God was thinking.
I think of Moses who Took God’s people into the wilderness. Not long after they were freed from brutal slavery they complained to God for where he rescued them to. Why the desert? Why a place where they had to rely on God for sustenance? This was worse than slavery, they griped, as they longed to return to slavery.
Then there is Esther and Daniel who lived in foreign lands under traditions that were often an abomination to God. There is Jeremiah who was known as the weeping prophet. We can’t forget Job who lost everything because of a wager that God made over his faithfulness.
So this year has been one of those times for me. It has been one of those years of trial after trial. A year of questioning what in the world is God doing? I thought that he had a plan for my life, but I catch myself wondering "if this is the plan what in the world is going on?" I pray, I cry out for help, but the only thing I sense (if anything at all) is persevere. I look at these heroes of the faith and their lives scream, "persevere in faithfulness and obedience". I see these dry desert experiences as times that the Lord uses to train and equip us for his work, even though it does not always make sense or look they way we had envisioned life in faith. But that’s what faith is about, isn’t it?
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1-2