Before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, I solemnly charge you to carry out these commands without prejudice or favoritism of any kind.
1 Timothy 5:21
Staying Strong When Your Faith is Challenged
Challenges in life are the test of faith. In fact, it is often challenges or difficulties in life that remind people of their need for God.
However, challenges in life are also what drives some people to turn away from God. Perhaps their prayers aren’t answered when or in the way they believe they should be. As a result, these people will state that they “have lost their faith.”
The challenges and resolute faith of the apostle Paul
One of the strongest testimonies of faith is found in the numerous challenges and struggles of the apostle Paul.
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea.”
– 2 Corinthians 11:24-25
And even everything in the above verse is not the complete list of all the sufferings of the apostle Paul. There was much more, including multiple imprisonment.
In the above verse, Paul was speaking about the hardships he endured as part of his service and spreading the gospel. In the verse just prior, Paul was spoke out against false apostles and questioned those who weren’t serious about their faith. Paul said: “Are they servants of Christ?” (2 Corinthians 11:23a)
When people lose their faith in the midst of challenge, one has to wonder – did they have real faith to begin with?
The apostle Paul had a lot of hardships in his life for the sake of his faith. Yet, in the midst of all these challenges, Paul never let go of his faith. No matter what hardships Paul had to endure, his faith, rather than diminish – grew stronger.
“or with these surpassingly great revelations. So to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
A reminder that we need God
God sometimes uses challenges in life to get our attention. When everything is going great, we often begin to have faith in ourselves – rather than God. “The good times” can be times when we stop paying attention to God.
Then challenges come along, and God sometimes uses these as a “wake-up call” to bring our attention back to Him. These challenges serve as a reminder that we need God. We can face ordeals that are beyond our control or comprehension. These remind us that there is a power greater than ourselves – that power is God – who is above all.
Perseverance strengthens faith
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
– James 1:2-4
The challenges in life refine us. They refine our character. They refine our faith. If our faith cannot withstand challenges – then perhaps we don’t really process faith. Challenges should increase our faith, not cause us to lose it.