Tests and how we can draw strength from God
Tests. Sooner or later we all have to face them, in one way or another. Important is that we know how we can draw the strength we need. Following is some useful advice from a recent divine service by the Chief Apostle.
More than 4,000 participants in France and Belgium were connected by video transmission to the divine service the Chief Apostle held on 12 June 2016 in Metz (France). The service was based on the following Bible text: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10: 12–13).
Apostle Paul admonished the Corinthians not to follow the example of the Hebrews, who died in the wilderness because they succumbed to temptation, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained: “The temptations allowed by God are tests. God tested His people not to make them suffer, but to give them the opportunity to grow in faith.”
The Chief Apostle went on to list five tests which today’s believers are also subjected to:
- gratitude. God provided manna for the people of Israel while they were in the wilderness, but before long they were tired of this simple food, calling it worthless. Today too, God provides for us; maybe not riches, but He always gives us what we need. “Those who are grateful to God and recognize His grace, have peace in their hearts.”
- maturity. When Moses went up the mountain, the Israelites enjoyed a kind of freedom for the first time. “But the experiment went awry. They behaved in a totally immature way.” The question today is: “Is there evidence of our spiritual maturity or do we use our freedom to move away from God.”
- patience. Moses stayed on the mountain with God for quite some time, so that the Israelites finally said, “He will not return!” And today: “We go through periods in our lives in which we believe that we do not know where to find Jesus. Do we have the necessary patience to be able to say, ‘Jesus will help me, He will come back. I’ll wait for Him.’?”
- trust. When the Israelites reached the border of the Promised Land, they thought it would be impossible to conquer. Today the question is: “How am I supposed to reach the goal under the given circumstances?” – “It is not a question of circumstances, but one of trust in God. Trust Him and all will turn out well.”
- steadfastness. In the Promised Land, the Israelites adapted to their surroundings and abandoned their God to serve other gods. “If we allow ourselves to be contaminated by thoughts that are contrary to God, then we will no longer be happy in the Church and our faith will no longer be able to grow.”
“These are the tests that the people of God are exposed to,” the Chief Apostle said. “Everything you experience is quite normal; everyone experiences the same.” But the church has been given a wonderful promise, he said: “God will not limit the temptations, but He will multiply the strength at our disposal so that we can resist temptation.”
“Let me mention three of these strengths,” Chief Apostle Schneider went on.
- “First of all, there is His word and Holy Communion. Grow in faith, and you will be stronger!”
- “The second strength that Jesus imparts to us through the Holy Spirit is the most beautiful, and my favourite one: love. The greater this love in us is, the stronger we are.”
- “The last strength that Jesus gives us is fellowship. The determining factor of this fellowship is not the number of members, but the intensity of their love for God and the neighbour.”
“God will always give us the necessary gifts,” the Chief Apostle said in conclusion. “Only, He does not give them to us individually but collectively; He deposits them in our community. And if we remain in this community, in this fellowship, we will be able to resist the Devil, remain steadfast, and gain the victory with Christ.”