It could sound carefree, but going by faith is not a passive decision. In fact it requires vigilance, steadfast action and unwavering trust. When we struggle with tough times, there’s more to consider than the finish line. Time spent in the fire refines us; it puts our faith to the ultimate test.
We’ve heard it said in different ways: It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. When we find ourselves in a place of duress, we can try to see the great opportunity at hand (it won’t feel “great” at the time). But for change to occur, for growth and maturity to happen, the fire must burn away what needs to go — to cleanse, to purify.
Trials Have a Set Time Period
Will the anxiousness, distress, “waiting” or pain last one hour, one day, one year? More? We don’t always know beforehand, which could create more discomfort, but a time period is set. It will eventually come to an end.
It says in Habakkuk 2:3: This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
The question is, how will we hold ourselves — spiritually, emotionally and physically — during the trial? When we realize God is at work, that He is refining us for good, then the pain has a purpose. We can trust that God has a bigger plan even if we feel no instant relief.
Our Personal Fires
In part one of How to Keep Faith in Tough Times, I mentioned struggling with a rough day and wondering why God wasn’t changing the situation. It involved an argument with my husband that seemed to last a full 24 hours. And yet the options to choose peace, to “drop it,” to kiss and make up… to apologize… sat and waited. Everytime I walked away from those options I could feel the fire burning. I kept feeling this voice say, “Try again.” I would attempt to try, and then give up. “Try again.” This went on and on.
Even after several kind-of resolutions, a feeling still lingered. It wasn’t until I actually felt the need to run away from the situation that I saw there was nothing to run to. The love was right there, but it required a softer heart. It required listening. It required sincere kindness. And yet I felt that would be defeating. Ahhh … there it was. It woud be defeating … defeating what was not from God.
Talk about spiritual warfare. When we go through a trial by fire, the impurities of our character are brought to light for a reason. God knows we want to grow, and He’s doing what it takes to make that happen. We may be praying for God to change someone else, but meanwhile God is working in that person to change us. All along, it could be a test of our faith.
When I talked to my husband after that revelation, when I told him I was struggling and didn’t know why, we both hugged and apologized. The siutation changed completely. And I have never felt more in love with him. The love and respect only grows and grows with every passing day.
Tests of our faith are not punishments; they are tests of our faith. We can find inspiration in Job 23:10: But he knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
Keep your faith.