“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). With this statement Jesus makes clear that our faith will be tested. If God indeed allows the believer to experience dangerous persecution and discouragement, does this mean He wishes to birth us and then destroy us? Such a question may reflect our fear when we are in the middle of a trial; however, we must not forget the promise of Christ: He is not willing that any should perish but that all should have eternal life. All testing is allowed, but it is allowed within God’s assurances that the church is undefeatable. The true church lives within a transformed kingdom and represents an asymmetry of hope and victory.
So, why the trials, pressures, tests and stresses? Why not all victories? We say that every day is a good day, and there is a sense in which this is true. But if we say that in order to bluster about how positive we are while denying the reality of difficult situations, such a statement is artificial and dangerous. Honest people know that walking in the will of God includes walking through drought and the wilderness. One should never teach or imply otherwise. I have yet to meet a Spirit-filled Christian who’s never had a trial. I think I know why.
If we are never tested we would never become strong. Living as pampered, spoiled children would weaken us and twist our thinking. Jesus would become nothing more than a Santa Claus, so to speak. The results would be foolishness, weakness, prayerlessness, and a form of silliness.
We must not allow the environment in the church to foster our becoming inexperienced and ignorant regarding our relationship in Christ. It’s true that He has promised never to forsake us, but it is also true He never leaves us unchallenged.
We are summoned to climb mountains for a reason. It builds our muscles. It brings joy to our souls. It provides experiences that deepen our faith and demonstrates our power through God. Testing makes us human. Although we love to say we are not of this world, we do, for a fact, live in this present world, and the world should see the church as overcomers, not spoiled self-righteous brats with an attitude. Who would be attracted to people living in a protective bubble? Living an artificial existence would dehumanize us. Presenting a fanciful, false testimony and pretending to know it all only makes us look foolish; and to boast about being something we are not destroys our credibility.
Jesus was God manifest in flesh, yet He was tempted in all points, as are we. Think about it, God in sandals, walking on dusty roads. He hungered. He wept. He suffered loneliness. There is no call for the church to live in an artificial world. We don’t need the superficial to survive. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. There is to be nothing pretentious in our walk with God.
The church, even if thrown into the lion’s den, comes forth transformed and ready to preach the Gospel. It is not weakened. It gains strength when it is tested. The Church, as did Daniel, demonstrates authority when truth is challenged. Daniel was not looking for compromise or middle ground. He was fearless and ready to be tested.
Whatever we face during this unprecedented revolution must not generate fear in the Church. God is for us. Every trial, every persecution, every war, every wilderness, every loss, the pain of every backslidden friend or child, every wind of false doctrine, is sent to make us prosper. The winds will roll back the sea, and the supper-less evening will be forgotten when the manna of the morning covers the ground. The people of God will not be defeated. It is impossible.
We know that church folks may get discouraged and may become weak in faith. They may fail to remember the victories of the past. This is precisely why God must bring the testing. It is not intended to defeat you, and if you love the Lord, it cannot defeat you. The testing comes to prepare you and to demonstrate His power to you. To showcase you as an example to the world that the Church is unsinkable. Nothing can separate men from God without their consent. Trials make us stronger.
People do not backslide because of testing. Backsliding is a matter of the heart – what is loved or rejected within the heart. It happens when people love the world, and are tempted, and drawn away of their own lusts (James 1:14). They are seduced by pleasure, selfishness and money: in other words, by the world. The testings of God demonstrate to you through your own personal experiences that He is with you.
I believe this present hour of testing is to reshape the church by exhibiting a fresh revelation of God’s grace and power. Our muscles are being strengthened, dreams rebirthed, the glory of God’s provision revealed. Nothing can harm us. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). The gates of hell cannot prevail against us.