When Your Faith is Tested

 

When Your Faith is TestedSuffering and trials are a normal part of life in a fallen world, and it’s during these times that a person’s faith in God will be tested. It’s not a question of if your faith will be tested, but when. So, what should you know and do as you handle these tests of faith? How do you prepare for the difficulties of life before they come so that you can face them with confidence and peace? In the famous story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego facing the fiery furnace, there are at least five lessons that are meant to prepare people for the tests and trials of life.

 

Get to know God now

King Nebuchadnezzar asked these three men, “Who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” They didn’t say, “You know what? That’s a really good question! Could we go home and email our pastor, or can you give us some time to Google that? Can we go and research that or have a study group on that? No, these men didn’t have the option of leaving and learning the answer. They needed to know God before the trial and the test came. There’s no time to prepare in the moment when the doctor calls and tells you that it’s cancer or when you hear about the car accident. The time to get to know God is now. This is why later on in the book of Daniel it says, “The people who know their God will stand firm and take action” (Daniel 11:32). The book of Daniel isn’t about Daniel and these three men; it’s about knowing their God.

 

Surround yourself with godly friends

All three men faced the fire together. In chapter 2, it explains that Daniel and these three men were all good friends. You see the importance of community and brotherhood. There is great strength in godly friendships. Do you have friends that will encourage you to take a stand when it’s hard? Do you have friends that are sharpening you, challenging you, making it harder and harder for you to compromise? Now, this doesn’t mean that Christians should live in some holy Jesus huddle where you never reach out and spend time with non-believers. No, these men were working in a very secular political regime, but they stuck together and strengthened each other to be in the world but not of the world. Do you have friendships in life for the hardships of life?

 

Trust in the character of God

The men respond by saying, “Our God is able to deliver us, and he will deliver us out of your hand O King.” Just like God did with Abraham on the mount and with the people at the Red Sea, they had confidence that God was able and willing to rescue them. Yet, they also said, “But if not …we will not bow.” So, they had a “nothing is impossible” faith, but they also had a “no matter what” faith. They trusted in the sovereign power of God, but they also trusted in the sovereign plan of God. True faith is always both. It’s spiritual confidence but not spiritual arrogance, thinking that a person’s faith can somehow guarantee the results that he or she wants. These men trusted that God was able, willing and worthy of their obedience no matter what.

 

Do the right thing no matter what

How easy would it have been for these men to make excuses and compromise? They could have said to one another, “We’ll bow down, but we won’t worship the idol in our hearts, or “We’ll just do it this once and ask God for forgiveness.” They could have said, “Doesn’t God want us to honor authority?” or “We don’t want to lose our ability to influence people for God do we? They could have said, “This isn’t going to hurt anybody!” But they didn’t make any of those excuses. They were rescued but they did the right thing no matter what the result may have been.

 

Remember the purpose of tests

One of the purposes of tests is to know God more intimately. When the men are cast into the furnace, a fourth figure appears in the fire with them. Many commentators point out that this was the pre-incarnate Christ. So, outside of the fire the men are talking about God, but inside the fire they are walking with God. God transforms your suffering from being the in place where you would think that he is the most distant into the place where he becomes the most near. And appearing in human form to identify with his people in this fire was just a foreshadowing of how God would one day become a human in Jesus and identify with his people in another fire. On the cross Jesus willingly underwent the fire of God’s judgment upon sin so that all those who trust in him could be completely forgiven. Another purpose is that God wants to use the fire to free people from certain things in life. The only thing the men lost in the fire were the ropes that bound them. Lastly, God wants to use the way his people face the tests of life to bear witness to the watching world that God can be trusted and is the only source of hope, strength and lasting peace.

 

Jeremy McKeen is the lead pastor of Truth Point Church. Jeremy received his B.A. in communications and philosophy from Florida Southern College and his MDiv from Know theological Seminary.

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