Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  James 1:2-3

            According to James, testing brings endurance. How? The nature of a test is to face a challenge that takes me beyond my proficiency level.  I must stretch to achieve it.  It will appear too hard at first glance and require that I find some new muscles.  God knows me well enough to know how to present a test that is perfectly shaped for my area of weakness.  When I face it head on and rely on His grace to process events according to His truth, my strength increases.  Endurance is the result and I am closer to becoming a spiritual champion.

            I can testify that the tests I have faced over the course of my life have involved my view of God.  Each time something happened to me that seemed unfair, I was tempted to malign God’s character.  On the tip of my tongue was the accusation that He had overlooked me and/or abandoned me.  When circumstances appeared to accuse Him of things His Word says He is not, and I chose to believe the voice of the liar as he interpreted the events for me in my mind, then I failed the test.

            I remember when my father died of lung of cancer some years back.  I was sure that God had made some personal promises to my sister and me about his healing.  This wasn’t just a hunch I got in prayer. There were many physical confirmations, beyond what His Word says, that I based His promise on. But God didn’t answer the way I expected.  In fact, His ultimate answer was in direct opposition to what I felt He had promised.  Dad died. This was one of my greatest tests because, momentarily, I felt tricked.

            After a few months of a fierce inner battle, I realized that much was at stake.  God’s righteous character was the target of my own assassination attempt. Would I call Him good, faithful, loving and compassionate even though the evidence tempted me to believe otherwise?  Fortunately, I recognized what was happening and clung to God to help me embrace faith in His sovereignty. Truth gave freedom from torment.

            May God heighten our spiritual senses today.  Chances are, the very places we suffer today present a perfectly molded test, tailor made to some area where we need greater proficiency.  May we discern it, point at it in recognition, and ask God for the grace to pass it.  The result will be new strength and the reward of His favor.

I don’t’ want to whine, panting in exhaustion over the slightest challenge.  I want to be your champion.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

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