“When Faith Is Tested” By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

When Faith is Tested

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

Scripture Readings: James, Chapter 1

Key Verses: James 1:2-3, James 1:13-16, 17

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

“Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”

Life is hard. We will have many challenges to our faith along the way. And when that happens, and it happens often enough for some of us, our faith can be strengthened by the experiences. It seems that when we go through difficult times that is when we grow the most. We almost need to have some challenges in order to be able to let God in, in order to allow Him to care for us. I believe that’s why He allows them. Those times build our faith and our endurance, as the scripture says. As we noted in a previous post, Jesus remains faithful and we can count on Him and His love to be there when we need Him.

Right now, most of you know from previous posts, Paul and I are being challenged because of his broken shoulder. We have had to rearrange our priorities. We have had to put some goals on hold. We would prefer to be working in our chosen jobs right now, but we have been stopped in our tracks. We have to take care of each other and allow others to care for us. We have to regroup, remember what is most important for ourselves and others in our lives. We have faced a few medical concerns in the past and have been through some tough times together. And I am happy to say that we have weathered those storms well, for the most part, and our relationship has gotten stronger because of having been through those tough times. So, when our faith has been challenged, and we have relied on the love and direction of God, letting go, releasing our will to His will, we have endured and become stronger for it.  I can’t say it feels like joy when we are going through it, but joy does come. The silver linings appear and sometimes God has surprised us with gifts of His love beyond measure, beyond the immediate concern—sometimes years later we have reaped the benefits of His love from one of the previous challenges. Faith tested yields endurance. And Jesus is faithful, forever and always.

And that comforts me. I have many friends who are being challenged with their very lives or love children who are troubled or who have deadly diseases. And they are people who must depend on God to help them through these times. I pray for their joy to come.

Sometimes the more faithful we are and the closer we get to God, the more challenges seem to come our way. At least that is true for me.

And when we are challenged, we are vulnerable to temptation. But, the scripture is clear about it—God is never tempted by evil, God cannot exist with evil. God is pure love and evil cannot abide with Him. So when we are tempted to do things that are outside of God’s will, or tempted to blame Him when things are tough, we are being tempted not by God but by our own lust. Choosing to follow those instincts results in sin. And sin never comes from God. Temptation to sin never comes from God.

All that is good comes from above—it comes from God. Only Good things come from God.

And God loves me, wants what is best for me. But, He gives me a choice. When the temptations come, and they will come, will I choose to follow Him? Will I choose to remember why Jesus came? He came so I would not have to submit to sin, so that sin would not have its hold on me,  so that I might live life more abundantly. And with God helping me with life’s challenges, why would I want to go against His will? Why would I choose anything else?

Love breeds love. Evil breeds more evil. God is love. God is NOT evil. All good things come from God. “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” “Do not be deceived!”

Prayer: Dear Loving God, may I keep you close, may I read and know your word, so that I may not be deceived. Hold me close and remind me when I am challenged that you are there to comfort me and love me, that I need only ask for your help.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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