Monday, July 5, 2010

A Test of Faith (Acts 12:1-19)

After “earnestly praying” for Peter to be released from prison, why did the church struggle to believe God’s answer when Peter knocked at the door? After all, many people at the prayer meeting had witnessed Jesus’ resurrection—and an empty jail cell is nothing compared to an empty tomb. Perhaps they hesitated to believe the news of Peter’s release because between Jesus’ resurrection and Peter’s incarceration had come James’ execution. Their faith was being tested.

Unexpected tragedy will test our faith. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If something we considered valuable were actually a worthless counterfeit, wouldn’t we want to know? If our faith is phony—based on positive thinking, emotionalism, or confidence in getting our way (instead of confidence in God Himself)—it’s good for us to find that out. Nothing reveals the true nature of faith like severe trials. And nothing engenders and strengthens true faith like experiencing God’s provision in the midst of our trials.

New Testament believers who celebrated Peter’s rescue and grieved James’ death had much in common with their Old Testament counterparts. Some “escaped the edge of the sword,” some “were put to death by the sword,” but “these were all commended for their faith”
(Hebrews 11:34-39 NIV). We can relate, too. Sometimes God provides what we need to escape suffering; sometimes He provides what we need to endure it. But always, always, He provides. When our faith rests in God’s faithfulness, and not in what He’ll do to prove it, our faith will pass the test—any test.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world”  (1 Peter 1:6-7, NLT).

Copyright © 2010 Sherrie Lorance. All rights reserved.

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