One night, a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, “Jump! I’ll catch you.” He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the security of the roof. His heart was pounding and his breaths were near hyperventilating. His father kept yelling, “Jump! I will catch you.” But the boy protested, in between gasps for breath, “Daddy, I can’t see you.” The father replied, “But I can see you, and that’s all that matters.”
Do you consider yourself a rather faithful person? Do you wish you had more faith? Well, I think we can all relate on that front.
Sometimes, we all wish we had more faith in trying times. And sometimes, we find ourselves at the brink of exhaustion, loneliness, and sorrow, where our faith is completely gone, and we wonder if God even cares about us anymore.
“If God cared about us,” we might say or think sometimes, “He wouldn’t allow these terrible things to happen in our lives.”
But in truth, it’s because He cares about us that He allows those things to happen – and not only because He cares about us, but also because He wants to test our faith.
Even though we can’t see Him, we know in our minds He’s there.
Our faith will never be always enduring, or picture-perfect like the baby angel ornaments you see during the Holidays. Our faith is like a roller-coaster that has its ups and downs – and in the darkest of times, that is when it is tested.
And how will it be tested?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one correct answer to that. Faith can be tested in many ways, from media to friends to life situations. The question is, why? Why can’t we just have a perfect life with all ups and no downs so we can keep our faith strong all the time?
Here are three examples of why our faith is tested, and how we can keep it strong even when others try to break it down.
Faith is like gold – it needs to be tested.
“Fire is the test of gold. Adversity [is the test] of strong men.”
That quote from Seneca is so true. Swap the words “strong men” out for the word “faith,” and it’s still just as true. Adversity tests faith just like how fire tests gold.
Gold is one of the most valuable substances on this planet. As an article on TruthImmutable.com explained, “Gold has held a fascination for man since the beginning of time. People have starved for it, killed for it, or died for it. Yet, like man, this precious metal is found in ordinary places, hidden in lumps of rock, and often buried deep. Its real value cannot be realised or measured until it has been tried and refined. Gold that has been tested by fire is pure and precious. There are no shortcuts or easy ways to remove the dross and impurities.”
Wow. Do you see how this applies to us as well? For one, we humans are found in ordinary places. Secondly, our potential and faith are often hidden and buried deep inside of us, and we don’t realize it. Thirdly, our real value – and our real faith toward God – cannot be realized or measured until it has been tried and refined. By what, fire? No – by adversity! By trying times that make us feel like giving up. When we are in those tribulations yet we don’t give up, we keep our faith, and we stick to what we know is right, we will be rewarded, and the “gold” inside of us will be revealed.
Just as 1 Peter 1:7 put it, “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
Faith is like muscle – it needs to be strained before it can grow.
Have you ever tried lifting a weight so many times that you can’t lift it anymore? Have you, perhaps, tried it again the next day and noticed that it’s easier to lift? Why is that?
The way muscles grow is that, when you exercise, you produce thousands of little tears in the muscle. Sounds dangerous, right? No, not at all! When your body recovers, it builds muscle back in those gaps, and guess what – the muscle gets bigger.
“Faith, you see, isn’t just a one-time decision we make to follow God. Faith works like a muscle: It only gets stronger as it’s strained,” explains J.D. Greear in his sermon. He explained the process of how muscle grows and then concludes with, “That’s how faith works. God puts us in situations that tear our faith, so that it can grow back stronger.”
Not only is faith just like muscle in that respect, but it also carries another similarity.
The life of the average human being is a roller-coaster. It has high ups and low downs. And in those low downs, things can sometimes seem so depressing and dismaying that we feel like we’re at “the very brink.” We’re often left asking God when He will help us, because “nothing is happening.”
As J.D. Greear continued in his sermon, perfectly relating faith to muscle yet again, “Workout specialists often design workouts with a goal of ‘muscle failure.’ Instead of doing a given number of reps, you lift the weight until your muscle literally can’t do it anymore…That’s what God does to your faith. He pushes it to the brink, because He’s more committed to growing your faith than you are.”
Wow. So powerful, and yet so true.
At the times that you most feel like giving up, those are the times that God will swoop in and save the day. Why does He wait so long? So your faith can be strengthened. If your faith was never tested, it would be like a muscle that was never used. It’s weak. So, trials and tribulations actually help to strengthen the “faith muscle.”
Faith is like an exam – you have to be examined closely if you want to learn.
When you were young, did you like to take tests? Did you drool at the opportunity to take a test or an exam? Raise your hand if you like pop quizzes!
Not many hands, I bet. That’s what I thought.
In fact, I just recently realized that there is a word that describes a “condition” of when some people think of tests – it’s called testophobia. Yep, the fear of tests. The symptoms can include an inability to concentrate, feeling dizzy, vomiting, panic attacks, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and an overwhelming feeling of dread, depression, and anxiety.
Well, even for those of us that don’t have an extreme case of “testophobia,” a lot of us still get – or got – nervous when thinking of tests, especially if we are not prepared for them.
“If you hang around an academic environment long enough, you will occasionally hear someone questioning the need for students to be tested; normally the argument against comes from the students themselves,” Pastor Tim Vamosi wrote in his article The Faith Test. “Their rationale goes something like this: ‘Why do we need to be examined? We’ve received the information, been assigned homework, prepared lab experiments, written essays, given oral presentations, memorized data, talked about it [in] class, studied every day – so why is it even necessary to have a test?’”
Vamosi went on to explain that “every teacher knows that you can do all of those academic activities but still not really learn what is being taught. Everyone knows there is often a big difference between studying and actually learning. The problem we all face is that [we delude ourselves into thinking that] because we’ve done a few of those things or some combination of them, we’ve mastered or learned the topic.”
Indeed, just as he said, just because you go through the motions of reading a high school chemistry book, it doesn’t mean you’re competent enough to be a chemist.
“Testing is necessary,” Vamosi concluded. “A test provides a setting where a student can be evaluated according to objective performance standards rather than assessing themselves from a personal point of view. Exams give evidence of whether or not the topic was learned.”
So what does all this have to do with faith?
Just like a test or an exam, our faith has to be tested in order to prove that we learned. If we just did all the “oral presentations,” “data memorizations,” and “lab experiments” of life – AKA going through the motions of day-to-day routine – with no chance to test what we’ve learned – AKA test our faith – then we will fail the test. However, we will pass if, even through hardships and difficulties, we press on and keep our faith.
As sad as it is, so many things in life will try to pull you down and break your faith. Media and entertainment will provide many temptations, as will negatively-influencing friends. Life circumstances will often test your faith by throwing obstacles in your path. But that’s all a part of the test! Just like in the story at the beginning of the article, you may not be able to see God through all the dismal smoke, fire, and ash of worldly obstacles, but God can most certainly see you – and He’s waiting for you to take that leap of faith.
So when life gets hard, if you remember that it takes fire to test the gold, straining to grow the muscle, and testing to expand your knowledge, you will recall that no matter what life throws at you, you can buckle up, trust God, and break through – all with a heart of faith.
You Rock, Dream Big, and You Got This!
– Arianna Fox, 14-Year-Old Girlpreneur, Bestselling Author, Motivational Speaker, Voiceover Talent, Actress, and Teen Influencer
@afoxauthor on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (Arianna Fox on LinkedIn and YouTube)