Your faith will be tried. You may rest assured of that. A man may have faith and be for the present without trial, but no man ever had faith and was all his life without trial. That could not—must not—be; for faith, in the very nature of it, implies a degree of trial. I believe the promise of God. So far, my faith is tried in believing the promise, in waiting for the fulfillment of the promise, in holding on to an assurance of that promise while it is delayed, and in continuing to expect the promise and act upon it until it is fulfilled to me.
I do not see how faith can exist which is not tried by its own exercise. Take the very happiest and smoothest lives; there must be the trial of faith in taking the promise and pleading it before God in prayer and expecting its fulfillment. God never gave us faith to play with. It is a sword, but it was not made for presentation. It is meant to cut and wound and slay; and he that has it may expect, between here and heaven, that he shall know what battle means. Faith is a sound seagoing vessel and was not meant to lie in dock and perish of dry rot.
The very gift of faith is a hint to you that you will want it, that at certain points and places you will especially require it, and that at all points you will really need it. You cannot live without faith, for again and again we are told “the just shall live by faith.” Believing is our living, and we, therefore, need it always. And if God give you great faith, you must expect great trials, for in proportion as your faith shall grow, you will have to do more and endure more. Little boats may keep close to shore, but if God make you a great vessel, He means that you shouldest know what great billows are. That God, who has made nothing in vain, especially makes nothing in the spiritual kingdom in vain; and if He makes faith, it is with the design that it should be used to the utmost and exercised to the full.
Expect trial, also, because trial is the very element of faith. Faith is a diamond which bores its way through the rock. Faith without trial is like a diamond uncut, the brilliance of which has never been seen. Untried faith is such little faith that some have thought it no faith at all. What a fish would be without water, or a bird without air, that would be faith without trial. If you have faith, you may surely expect that your faith will be tested: the great Keeper of the treasures admits no coin to His coffers without testing. It is so in the nature of faith, and so in the order of its living: it thrives not, save in such weather as might seem to threaten its death.
Indeed, it is the honor of faith to be tried. Shall any man say, “I have faith, but I have never had to believe under difficulties”? Who knows whether you have any faith? Shall a man say, “I have great faith in God, but I have never had to use it in anything more than the ordinary affairs of life, where I could probably have done without it as well as with it”? Is this to the honor and praise of your faith? Do you think that such a faith as this will bring any great glory to God, or bring to you any great reward? If so, you are mightily mistaken.
Had Abraham stopped in Ur of the Chaldees with his friends, and rested there, and enjoyed himself, where had been his faith? He had God’s command to quit his country to go to a land he had never seen, to sojourn there with God as a stranger, dwelling in tents; and in his obedience to that call his faith began to be illustrious. Where had been the glory of his faith if it had not been called to brave and self-denying deeds? Would he ever have risen to that supreme height, to be “the father of the faithful,” if he had not grown old, and his body dead, and yet he had believed that God would give him seed of his aged wife Sarah according to the promise? It was blessed faith that made him feel that nothing was impossible to God.
If Isaac had been born to him in the days of his strength, where had been his faith? And when it came to that more severe test to sacrifice Isaac, then was his faith confessed, commended, and crowned. Then the Lord said, “Now I know,” as if, even to God, the best evidence of Abraham’s faith had then been displayed when he staggered not at the promise through unbelief, reckoning that God could restore Isaac from the dead if need be, but that it was his to obey the supreme command and trust all consequences with God, who could not lie. Herein his faith won great renown, and he became “the father of the faithful,” because he was the most tried of believers and yet surpassed them all in childlike belief in his God.
“Faith is a sound seagoing vessel and was not meant to lie in dock and perish of dry rot.”
We remember also two reasons for the trial of faith. The trial of your faith is sent to prove its sincerity. If it will not stand trial, what is the good of it? That gold which dissolves in the furnace is not the gold which shall be current with the merchant; and that faith of yours, which is no sooner tried than straightway it evaporates, are you not well rid of it? Of what use would it be to you in the hour of death and in the day of judgment? No, you cannot be sure that your faith is true faith till it is tried faith.
It must also be tested to prove its strength. We sometimes fancy that we have strong faith when, indeed, our faith is very weak; and how are we to know whether it be weak or strong till it be tried? A man that should lie in bed week after week, and perhaps get the idle whim into his head that he was very strong, would be pretty certain to be mistaken. It is only when he sets about work requiring muscular strength that he will discover how strong or how weak he is. God would not have us form a wrong estimate of ourselves. He loves not that we should say that we are rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing when we are the reverse; and therefore He sends to us the trial of our faith that we may understand how strong or how weak it is.
Besides that, dear friends, the trial of our faith is necessary to remove its dross. There are many accretions of sordid matter about our purest graces. We are apt ourselves to add to the bulk of our graces without adding to the real value of them. We mistake quantity for quality, and a great deal of what we think we have of Christian experience, knowledge, zeal, and patience is only the supposition that we have these graces and not their real possession. So the fire grows fiercer, and the mass grows smaller than it was before. Is there any loss therein? I think not. The gold loses nothing by the removal of its dross, and our faith loses nothing by the dissipation of its apparent force. Faith may apparently lose, but it actually gains. It may seem to be diminished, but it is not truly diminished. All is there that was worth having. You can now tell how much was solid and how much was sham, for had that which has failed you been real faith, it would not have been consumed by any trial through which it has passed. You have lost the froth from the top of the cup, but all that was really worth having is still there.
Understand, then, that for many necessary purposes there is a need for trial. Peter says here, “If need be” that there should be a trial of your faith. You will get that trial, because God, in His wisdom, will give faith what faith needs. Do not be anxious to enter into trial. Do not fret if temptation does not come just now. You will have it soon enough. We need not be uneasy if for a while we are at ease, for there are months enough left to the year to give winter its full measure of frosts and storms.
by Jason K. Allen
When Spurgeon speaks, you’d be wise to listen. The great London preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon had a lot to say during his four decades...
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