Tried by fire

fire

True faith is able to stand against any challenge, whether it is time or fire.

Waiting on the Lord can seem like it is the most difficult thing ever. If for no other reason, waiting can appear problematic because it requires something that seems to be rare nowadays—patience.

James 1:3 tells us that, “the trying of your faith worketh patience” (KJV). Faith that is genuine and that can stand the test of time has to yield patience. Otherwise, what we are truly being is anxious, and the word of God tells us explicitly to “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6).

There is also a distinct difference between waiting on God and being still because you do not have the ability to move. I myself have been caught in the middle of this tug-of-war from time to time.

There have been numerous times where I started out with an “I believe God” type of attitude that suddenly changed into trying to take matters into my own hands out of panic.

Psalm 27:14 exhorts, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” It is no doubt that waiting on God takes spiritual strength and divine confidence. Lacking these qualities will most certainly make one susceptible to shrink back, as Proverbs 24:10 reads, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!”

In our waiting, though, we do have moments of weakness. Take Abraham and Sarah, for example. Abraham was about 75 years old when God promised him a son (Genesis 15:4). In addition, God promised Abraham that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5).

Though Abraham did not see any signs of having a son (his wife was advanced in years as well), he still “believed the LORD, and [God] credited it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Even though he believed God, because God was apparently not moving quickly enough, he resolved to sleep with Sarah’s Egyptian slave, Hagar.

The Bible lets us know that Abraham was 86 years old when Hagar bore Ishmael. This means that about 11 years passed without Abraham seeing the promise. Seeing as though Abraham and Sarah had an outlet for their restlessness, they chose an alternative to waiting on God. (Granted, 11 years is a long time.)

Interestingly enough, the couple did not see the problem with Abraham sleeping with Hagar—they were only interested in the result! What happens when you are obsessed with the promise is that you begin to fixate on it coming to pass rather than waiting on God’s timing! This leads to deviation from the will of God, if you have the means to do so, like Abraham and Sarah.

God’s faithfulness, thankfully, is not contingent upon our faithfulness; if it was, we would certainly be in a world of trouble.

The Lord returned to Abraham at age 99 and told him that he would indeed have a son, Isaac, by Sarah. This would be the child of promise; through him God would fulfill his promise to Abraham.

Also of note is that Abraham, in his doubt and unwillingness to wait, asked for the blessing to be on Ishmael, the child that he had apart from God’s will. Sometimes, after waiting so long, we can try to invoke God’s blessings on things he did not even ordain!

Despite our mistakes, he is still faithful to deliver what he promised, just as Abraham and Sarah finally had Isaac.

Your test might not be a test of waiting a long time, though, but of having your back against the wall. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego can definitely attest being in a tight spot and waiting for God to perform.

After refusing to bow to the image that king Nebuchadnezzar set up, he threatened to throw the three Hebrew boys into the blazing furnace.

Daniel 3:15 outlines Nebuchadnezzar’s attitude:

“Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

Pretend for a moment that Nebuchadnezzar’s image represents every situation that we come against as believers. The devil, using these various situations, will try to make us bow to him through fear, doubt and unbelief.

The Hebrew boys’ response personifies the attitude we must harbor as believers:

”King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand” (Daniel 3:16-17).

Regardless of what the situation looks like, we have to be willing to allow our faith to stand up and fight for us (1 Timothy 6:12). The Hebrew boys’ faith was literally tried by fire (1 Peter 1:7), and after they were thrown into the furnace God proved himself to be a deliverer.

Whether you are enduring a long waiting period or you need God to show up in a hurry, just remember this:

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9, KJV).

 

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~ by christianballenger on June 3, 2011.

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