I have to admit, the title of this message was my wife’s. They say that behind every good pastor, is his wife – its very true.
You see, we have been – and continue to be tested over the past week, and it will continue for the foreseeable future. Without getting into details, let’s say that our patience is being tested like never before.
My favorite scripture when it comes to this is the first chapter of James.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1;2-5 NKJV)
More than once, Jeannie and I have had to say, “I will not let them steal our joy” – more than once. we both had to be reminded by a daughter.
Test, trials, circumstances – whatever you call them – they can be hard to endure, but this one is really designed by God to make our faith even stronger – thus producing patience. We’ve prayed more than once daily, ‘Lord, please get us through this day with patience and joy.”
Simon Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:3-9:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
He’ even stronger in his language in 2 Peter 2:4-10 – in the English Standard Version, it reads:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked(for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Here he discusses where a sinful environment can bring on trials on the righteous person. He used Noah as an example. and Lot, a righteous man who lived under the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah – which was a test in itself. If the Lord delivered them from those trials – He’ll deliver us from this one – we just have complete faith and trust in the one and only Deliverer – just as they had done.
I can take this a step further – just look at this nation, the one to our north, and nations all around the world. Christians are under a trial like never before.
In China, Xi’s government is shutting down churches and persecuting Christians and Uyghur Muslims like never before, being hauled off to “reeducation camps”. This persecution has been going on for some time now, but it’s moved into high gear of late.
The Muslim and Hindu population of India have been terrorizing Christians and either damaging or destroying churches. We know pastors who are in touch with these churches in India – it’s a sad situation indeed.
The same can be said of Muslims in many African countries. We have a friend who pastors a church in southern Nigeria – the stories we’ve heard would make you ill, but he preaches on – in the church, and on the street.
Canada is sending police and health officials into churches to shut them down, or downright blockade access to them — I wonder what would happen if Trudeau or provincial governments tried that with a Mohammadan Mosque? Riots would ensue!
Some state governors here in the United States have gone on record to declare churches as “not essential” – but abortion clinics and bars are considered “essential”. Thank God for some sane judge in these jurisdictions who overturned some of these rulings.
The federal government in the US would like nothing more than to silence the “gun loving, bible toting, born again Christian,” to “cancel us” as it were, as we’re seen as a threat to their grab to power – and we are.
So, in the grand scheme of things – our trials seem trivial, but in reality, God permits us to go through all kinds of trials and tests, to refine us, to mold us, to sharpen our faith because, as the writer of Hebrews says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6).
The next time you’re placed in what seems to be an impossible situation – it’s probably a test. What do you do? You give it over to the Lord to handle – or you ask the Lord how He would have you handle the situation. Remember, The God who gives liberally will give you the wisdom to handle it, and He’ll bless you for asking and acting accordingly.