Our response to the testing of faith says a lot about our character as Christians. Even when victory looks impossible, the just are expected to exercise faith. Sometimes, we have to give God the opportunity to come through for us when victory seems impossible. Faith is persistent. It has to be. The Bible says faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Faith is developed through testing.
There are times in every believer’s life when taking a step of faith is required to have what you will. In contrast, there will also be situations where faith is carefully executed but you won’t clench the brass ring. These are especially difficult situations, but God can use them for our good. In those moments, we have to rest in the height and depth of God’s knowledge. Even though God knows the end from the beginning, faith still requires we act—whether we win or lose.
The Testing of Faith
The Bible promises there will be tests and tests come for a myriad of reasons. There’s the testing of our faith, the testing of our character, the testing of our motives, the testing of our hearts, and the testing of those around us. In some situations, God may be testing our response toward others or our response towards Him – especially if we fail to receive a desired outcome. We are tested in order to develop as men and women of God ordained to advance society and lead others to Christ. The reasons for testing are many. Disciples of Jesus cannot avoid testing.
Testing produces opportunities to activate faith. Even when the outcomes we desire are not meeting our expectations, testing still produces fruit that increases perseverance and establishes patience.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4, NKJV).
Faith is practiced through Testing
Faith must be practiced. God endows us with the capacity to have faith and use it. Most tests we go through are meant to increase our faith so testing is never a waste of time. It’s easy to see a test as fruitless when the end result hasn’t produced what we’ve hoped for; but every test serves a purpose.
Sometimes, God is looking for personal growth as we trust Him during a test. Additionally, tests increase our ability to believe God for bigger assignments and greater opportunities. Everyone crawls before they learn to walk.
The Bible says we must be faithful in the little things before He gives us the larger (Luke 16:10). Understandably, no one moves into the greater works of God (John 14:12) without first being refined through various tests and trials; it’s just part of the discipleship process. Graciously, God gives us Holy Spirit to help us maneuver through our tests so when the greater works manifest, we can execute them properly.
Enduring When There’s No Payoff
Likewise, when we endure testing for the purpose of spiritual growth this doesn’t mean we forego a payoff. God’s Word promises rewards for those who walk in faith and trust Him for their provision; however, we must recognize that some tests will be endured without a pay off in sight.
Clarifying further, during a test we may recognize we’re being spiritually stretched which eases the strain of the trial, but that doesn’t mean we will receive exactly what we’re anticipating at the end of the test. Moreover, when we’ve made a petition to God for something that He answers with a test, we may not receive the outcome we’ve hoped for even though we persevered. Regardless of the end result, God may require we push through a test knowing failure is imminent.
When Testing Costs You
How often have you had to follow through on a project or a promise you’ve made knowing your continuance could actually cost you? Have you ever had to take a step of faith when your circumstances clearly revealed the outcome would seal your own doom? Think God won’t test your character like that? Think again.
While some ministries avoid answers to questions like these, there will be tests that leave you shipwrecked. Remember the test of Paul as he made his way from Fair Havens to Rome and was stranded on the Isle of Malta (Acts 27:9-16)? We may not understand how and why things like that happen, but in His goodness, God promises to make a way of escape and to produce something valuable even if we encounter something detrimental (Genesis 50:20). If we endure hardship for example without securing an expected payoff, perseverance is still developed within us and spiritual maturity is produced. We know both things are necessary for promotion in the kingdom and those dividends pay out eternal rewards.
Developing Perseverance through the Testing of Faith
God has developed perseverance in me though a variety of tests; most recently, through singing. I began singing as a young girl, entering my first competition at 13. I fell in love with Jesus a few years later and sang as a guest singer in several churches. In my twenties, I had a band. Eventually, after gaining some experience, I moved to Nashville. I had a wonderful producer but circumstances beyond my control brought my project to a screeching halt. It took a long time to recover from that disappointment, but I pulled myself together. To get away from the trauma of my failed recording contract, I moved to Las Vegas.
I was the lead singer for a lounge band. Almost immediately after joining the band, I met and married my husband. We left Las Vegas for Nashville. Returning to singing competitions and winning a few, I also sat in with several bands and performed at a few venues.
I tried to keep the momentum going, but a few years into our marriage; life took my husband and me into a different direction. My mother fell ill and nearly died. All pursuits ended for me. I cared for her in my home for three years until she passed. Music was completely kicked to the wayside.
After she died, I sang at home for Jesus until God opened a door for me to join the praise and worship team of a small church. The Lord kept that door open for two years before closing it. There I was again, a new heartbreak in tow and another opportunity removed. I mourned the loss wondering if I was chasing the wind. Inwardly, I hoped God would allow me to sing again, but after so many false starts and failures it looked hopeless.
Petitioning the Lord for another Opportunity
Six weeks ago I told the Lord I missed performing. I petitioned Him for new opportunities to sing. Next to caring for my mother, nothing else has given me purpose and fulfillment like performing music. For me, singing is ethereal and spiritual. It feels heavenly and takes me to places I can’t put into words. The exhilaration of performance is indescribable. Music people may understand what I’m trying to convey. It feels much like the adrenaline rush the healing evangelist receives when he’s preaching to an audience of 100,000 people. There’s really nothing like it. Almost immediately after petitioning the Lord for an opportunity to sing, it presented itself.
My small town is far removed from entertainment venues and entertainment companies. So it was a wonderful surprise to learn an entertainment company from the big city was hosting a local contest in my own town. I asked the Lord about participating. Surely, this was my answer to prayer? What are the odds?
Once I had my confirmation to perform, I began putting my voice through a series of vocal exercises for three weeks prepping for the first round of the contest. Everything was going great and my vocals were strong, then in an instant, everything changed. I got clobbered with a severe allergy attack a few days before the performance. I was stunned. How can this be? Didn’t I just petition God for an opportunity to sing? Here it is in my own backyard and I can’t even eke out a note.
Three days before the competition I had no voice. Nothing was coming out…not one note.
In Faith, Do It Anyway
Hoping to avoid a vocal train wreck, I quickly went to prayer and did all I could to nurse my voice back to health. The day of the contest I wasn’t even close to optimum vocal heath but in faith I decided to perform anyway. I remembered advice I received from my spiritual mother years ago after a boyfriend dumped me the day of a vocal competition. Devastated, I considered cancelling my performance. In my anguish, she said, “Honey, sometimes you have to step out in faith and trust God.” I headed her advice, tried my best and won second place.
Using the same faith, I trusted God to heal me in time for this impending performance. I consumed a regimen of herbs, spices, honey, and the other things professional singers use to combat colds and allergies, but I still struggled to hold notes and stay on pitch. My voice cracked horribly. It was hideous. I was so frustrated and hurt—deeply hurt. How could this be happening? Why?
This was probably the worst vocal performance of my life. In fact, I don’t recall ever having such a crappy vocal, but there I was, belting out what my feeble little voice would allow. I was horrified when it was over. The upset hit me the following day. I couldn’t believe what happened but I put it behind me.
Two days later I received a call from the contest promoters. One of the contestants dropped out and they asked if I’d like to move to the next round. I gladly accepted and thought, “Yay—a chance to redeem that awful performance!” I was apprehensive. My voice was still unstable. Hoping to avoid the repeat of another subpar performance I set my mind to trust God.
Another Opportunity for God to Come Through
I had a discussion with God about the turn of events. I reminded Him that I was exercising faith a second time and now He had another opportunity to come through for me. With some trepidation and renewed hope, I trusted Him to deliver me from this physical attack.
On the day of the show I wasn’t a 100%. I asked God if I was in for another night of making a fool of myself or was I going to get a break and sing the way I normally do—with power and control. The conditions were questionable, but I had to continue. If I quit, then God wouldn’t have the chance to show up for me as I stood in faith. Reminding Him of James 2:26, faith without works is dead, I determined to push through a second time.
I was the second contestant to perform. As I finished my song I said out loud, “Thank you Jesus”. I was grateful to get through it. There was so much junk sitting in the back of my throat I needed to run to the bathroom sink as soon as the emcee released me; but I did it, I sang the song. My husband said I did well considering what I was up against.
I’m still reflecting on the entire debacle and asking God for understanding. There is no such thing as coincidence or happenstance for the disciple of Jesus. There is significance buried below the ashes of this ordeal. While it’s probable I just endured another “test”, it has meaning. Some may disagree with me and that’s ok. Be it unto you according to your faith and be it unto me according to mine. I am seeking to understand so I can grow from this experience.
Our Response to the Testing of Faith
Much can be gleaned from experiences like mine. Some things are beyond our control and sometimes a door we think is meant for us actually isn’t; our response to the testing of faith is contingent upon the strength of our resolve and our trust in God’s faithfulness.
As I reflect on the circumstances surrounding this event, I applied faith to the situation and I proved it by my works, even at the risk of looking ridiculous. If this was a test and not some fluke, I passed it.
After another disappointing outcome, I kept my wits about me and I didn’t lash out at God for allowing such humiliation. I wouldn’t have done that a few years ago. I would have given Him the business as silly as that sounds; but this time I kept my composure which is evidence of my own spiritual growth.
Despite the results, time will reveal the purpose of this recent vocal escapade. Good or bad, I’m glad I made the effort. Others would have run for the hills or waited for the perfect opportunity to be their best. In my case, this was the only opportunity and because the Bible says faith without works is dead, I chose to step out in faith when success looked grim. While I failed to secure an earthly victory for my efforts, my willingness to stay the course earns me eternal dividends that will remain forever.
Accepting the Results of Faith Tested
Lastly, whether the outcome of a test presents us with a positive or a negative result, accepting less than stellar results validates faith tested. The Apostle Paul noted his many tests taught him to how to abound and how to be abased without departing the faith (Philippians 4:11-12). He recognized his trials as opportunities for humility and growth. He understood the testing of his faith developed patience and patience was certainly required to fulfill his destiny as an apostle.
God is pleased when we act in faith and He honors us when we trust Him. The rewards for persevering through a test may not always produce what we’re expecting or desire, but it will always produce spiritual maturity, which is highly valued by God.
©2021, What You Will