Today's me-centered culture has created a comfortable brand of Christianity that is becoming a hindrance for so many believers in the race of faith. This kind of faith is producing greenhouse Christians—believers who are daily nourished inside the walls of the church building, only to wilt under the heat of tests, trials, and persecution once they leave their protective environments.
The New Testament epistle James says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance" (James 1:2-3). How is spiritual endurance cultivated? Through the testing of our faith! In order to truly flourish, we must face, rather than avoid, the spiritual challenges that come before us. Instead of allowing trials to turn us away from the Lord, trials can teach us to run to Him.
When you are rooted in Christ, it doesn't matter where you are planted.
In a world where we would much rather hear a soft, affirming message than a sermon on suffering or sacrifice, the Word of God challenges us to respond to tests and trials with joy. This kind of joy is not some sort of mask we wear, but a resilient hope we choose to find in Christ no matter the situation. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, choosing to focus on Him rather than our circumstances, we will find that He is strengthening us to face every spiritual battle.
The Bible says that when you are rooted in Christ, it doesn't matter where you are planted. Like Joseph, you may be planted in Pharaoh's prison, but you can rise and become the prime minister of Egypt. Like Daniel, you may be planted in the lion's den, but you can rise and become the advisor to the king of Persia. And like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you may be planted in the fiery furnace, but you can rise and witness to kings because God is with you.
How do you respond to circumstances that test your faith? Do you immediately give up, or do you fix your eyes on Jesus? Don't let trials turn you away from faith in God. Don't let the tests make your heart grow cold. Call upon the Lord for help, and rely on His strength. Remember the reward that awaits you in Christ Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that no matter where I am planted, I can flourish because of Your power working in me. When the next trial comes, help me to respond with utter joy, knowing that You will use the situation to shape and strengthen me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17).