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19th November: Put to the Test

This is no accident -- it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold, and gold as you know, even though it is ultimately perishable, must be purified by fire. 1 Pet 1:7 (JBP)

Many things today may turn out to be of academic interest. Whereas they may be true and interesting, they nevertheless do not involve us as people, and have no effect on our lives or on those of others. Protest may be like that, especially now that forms of protest have been developed into a fine art. It is, however, another thing to suffer for protestation's sake.

The Christian faith can be expressed in words and ideas. The New Testament is, in part, devoted to an affirmation and analysis of the faith. But this can so easily be an academic exercise on our part, no matter how orthodox our expression of it. Real faith has to be experienced before it can be expounded. The way in which it is experienced may be painful. We wish to be happy and, in general, Western Christianity is a comfortable affair. But regardless of what the future holds for us as a community, there is no doubt that the proof of our personal faith is its robustness under trial. In fact, when Jesus sought to cheer his disciples, he promised them trouble (Jn 16:33)!

This truth should not surprise us when we remember that Christ is our Saviour because, as a man, he suffered intensely and uniquely for us -- a theme which is central to Peter's letter. He is not saying that `your faith is more valuable than gold', but rather that its genuineness is. Suffering that proves this is of infinite value and, according to the Oxford Dictionary, to prove means not only to demonstrate it, but to subject it to a testing process in order to establish its validity.

Home of our hearts, lest we forget what our redemption meant to Thee
Let our most reverent thoughts be set upon thy Calvary.
We, when we suffer, turn and toss and seek for ease, and seek again;
But thou upon thy bitter cross wast firmly fixed in pain.
We, in our lesser mystery of lingering ill, and winged death,
Would fain see clear; but could we see, what need would be for faith?

Amy Carmichael

Further reading: 1 Pet 1:3-9. Jn15:15-20.


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