A difficult truth

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,  just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith. ‘ (Romans 1:17)

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:1-4)

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (1 Corinthians 4:17-18)
It’s midwinter and I have just pruned our apple tree. This seems harsh but all the experts tell me that it is the secret to getting good fruit next summer.  As we come towards the end of a week in which we have been thinking about faith, we face a truth that also seems harsh; faith grows most in hard times. The great 19th century preacher, Charles Spurgeon, wrote, “Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials”.

We can all think of times when God didn’t do what we wanted him to; the job we didn’t get, the relationship that ended, the healing that never came.  If we see faith as a feeling that we have to drum up ourselves, we are left feeling guilty and confused. But if we see that faith is primarily about our relationship with God and our decision to trust him, we may still not understand everything, but we can hold on to the truth that he is still who he says he is; compassionately working for our eternal good in every circumstance (Romans 8:28).

If one of God’s primary purposes in our lives is to teach us to trust him, then he will often put us in situations where we face exactly that choice; will we trust him? To quote Spurgeon again – “No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God's strength had you not been supported amid the water floods. Faith increas­es in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too”.            
  1. Looking back on your life as a Christian, what have been the seasons when you have learned the most and felt closest to God?
  2. What present circumstances or struggles in your life are forcing you to choose whether or not you are really going to trust God?
  3. What part does your relationship with other believers play in helping you to persevere in trusting God through hard times?
Loving heavenly Father, you know the circumstances that I am facing right now. I choose to believe that in all of them you are working for my eternal good and your glory. I rest in your great love for me and your faithfulness in completing the good work you have begun in my life. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen. 
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
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