1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Testing of Faith
A week ago today I walked out to my car, I put some things inside the front seat, and then I stood on the driveway next to the passenger side of the vehicle. I was just standing there when all of a sudden my right knee buckled on me in severe pain. I could not move. I could not walk. All I could do was to sit down inside the car and wait for my husband to arrive.
Two days later I was able to walk using a walker. I was able to put weight on the leg without the knee buckling again. The pain level did subside enough to where I can now walk with aid, but I am in more pain than I have been in a very long time. And 13 years ago the Lord led me to stop taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines for pain or for sickness.
I began immediately to pray for healing, for my Lord is my great physician. He is my healer. He has gotten me through the past 13 years without the aid of pharmaceuticals for pain. I have prayed through every pain, and I only use natural means for managing pain, such as heat, ice, diet, and exercise. But he didn’t heal me immediately. And I am still in pain a week later.
But what the Lord did do was to let me know that his grace is sufficient to meet my every need, that he is enough for me. Over and over again he has put songs in my head about his grace and his help and his all sufficiency. And he has led me to read blogs written by other writers whose messages were also about God’s grace being enough.
So, I am trusting the Lord each step of the way in knowing what to do and how to do it, and I am walking totally by faith in this one. Now, have I struggled? Yes! I have not doubted God, but I have cried plenty of tears, and I have asked him a lot of questions about what I should do or not do, and I have spoken honestly with him about things I don’t understand.
On the Heels
Now, this trial comes on the heels of another trial I have been going through. This past August we discovered that we had a mice infestation in our apartment. Mice leave their urine and feces all over the place, but in places hidden, not generally out in the open, so it took us a while to find them all and to clean them up and to patch the holes to keep them from coming back into our apartment (my husband did most all the work).
But during this process I was breathing in their urine and feces and I could feel it in my lungs and it was impacting my ability to breathe. I already had breathing issues. And then I got very sick. I knew I was getting sick from breathing their stuff into my lungs. I had extreme fatigue, fever (slight), muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, stomach upset, shortness of breath, coughing, and a sore throat (this one not listed as one of the symptoms).
I was very sick for about 8 weeks, but I still have the fatigue, the dizziness (another reason for using the walker), the shortness of breath, the coughing, and the muscle aches in my left hip, both shoulders, and now in my right knee, too (I have had bad knees for 50+ years but never like this before). So, I was in a weakened condition physically already when my right knee gave way. But God is good! He has been carrying me through it all.
All during this illness with the mice, which was a huge trial, too, I had to keep reminding myself that God is in control. He is still on the throne. He is still completely sovereign over all things. And that means he has control over the mice, too, and he allowed them to get into our apartment and to infect me with their virus, and so he allowed me to get sick, and this was also a time of testing my faith, and I cried plenty of tears over that, too.
But these aren’t the only trials I am going through. I have others which are not on a physical level but more on an emotional level. As one who is called of God to carry the gospel to the regions beyond and to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness for what they are, I get opposed, rejected, ignored, ostracized, mocked, and falsely accused sometimes, but I also get encouraged by the Lord and by some fellow believers in Jesus Christ.
If you are a fellow follower of Jesus Christ you are probably going through your own set of trials right now, for Satan is on the rampage. He is out to destroy the church and to obliterate the gospel and to rid this world of all who are committed to following Jesus Christ with their lives. And he has done a bunch of this already.
For so much of today’s church, at least here in America, has compromised the message of the gospel in order to appeal to human flesh and to the ungodly of this world. And they have turned the gatherings of the church into businesses which they are marketing to the world. So many of them have kicked the Holy Spirit out of their gatherings, and they have replaced the Holy Spirit with marketing books. And they have replaced the Scriptures with books written by humans which don’t follow the Scriptures in purity.
Most are not teaching on sin, repentance, obedience, submission, holiness, righteousness, judgment, and the end result of lives surrendered to following after their fleshly appetites. But they are feeding people with lies, and with feel-good messages, and with false promises, and false hopes of salvation and eternal life with God with no fear of God in their lives. For they are not requiring repentance, obedience, or submission to Christ as Lord.
And they are telling people that they don’t have to do anything but “believe,” but then they don’t really teach what it means to believe in Jesus. For belief and obedience are synonymous. And disobedience is synonymous with unbelief ((1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Rom 6:16; Jn 14:23-24; Rom 8:1-17).
And you know what? If you have been paying attention at all to what is going on in the world with any amount of discernment you have to realize that life on this earth has changed. We aren’t going back. We are seeing all kinds of indications that we are living in these last days before the return of Christ and we are moving ever more closely to this rule of the beast (Rev 13). If you don’t see this, ask the Lord to show you the truth, okay?
Anyway, one day we are going to be in a situation where we are going to have to choose loyalty to Jesus Christ over all else, which should be where we are now, and it may cost us our lives or our ability to buy and to sell, or it may cause us severe pain and suffering, and we have to decide now that when that time comes that we are going to choose Jesus and not the easy way out. And we have to do that now, not just then.
So, I believe our Lord gives us these times of testing to try our faith to see if we will be able to stand the test or if we will cave to pressure and take the easy way out. Believe me, I wanted the pain gone. I don’t enjoy suffering. But I know that I must not bend on this issue of drugs. And this is making me stronger for a time when the tests will get even harder. For, if we don’t get ready now, we will not be able to stand when it gets much worse.
Okay, so going back to the passage. Our faith involves work, not our own fleshly works trying to earn favor with God, but the works God assigns us to do, which may be simple things like eat less and exercise more, etc. And love is obedience to the Lord so it involves labor. And steadfastness of hope involves standing strong on what we believe and not yielding to compromise.
So, choose this day who you are going to serve. The flesh? Or the Spirit? You can’t have it both ways. And following the Spirit is going to involve trials and tribulations which will try our faith, but these are to make us strong so that we can endure, and so that we can keep on in following Jesus with our lives. For they teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves.
Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful
Oh Lord, you’re beautiful,
Your face is all I seek,
For when your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.
I want to take your word and shine it all around.
But first help me just to live it Lord.
And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown.
For my reward is giving glory to you.
Oh Lord, please light the fire,
That once burned bright and clear.
Replace the lamp of my first love,
That burns with Holy fear.
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