We have all heard the phrase “Be careful what you ask for.” Or the longer version goes something like this, “Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.” For instance, the weather has been hot and dry for weeks and your lawn needs water. You wish for rain only to have it rain for five straight days and now your yard is flooded. Many people say they never ask for more patience because that request often brings them life situations that require them endure periods of waiting. Or you might be familiar with the fictional story titled “The Monkey’s Paw” (click here to read this story) by W.W. Jacobs, first published in England in 1902. The story involves Mr. & Mrs. White and their son Herbert. In the story they are introduced to a monkey’s paw that has mysterious powers to grant them three wishes. They are warned against using this monkey’s paw but they ignore the warning and one of the wishes that Mr. White requests is for two hundred British pounds to pay off the loan on their house. The next morning their son Herbert is killed in a machinery accident at his workplace. Herbert’s employer disclaims all responsibility for his death but decides to compensate the Smiths for their son’s services in the amount of, yes you guessed it, exactly two hundred British pounds.
At some point in your life you probably prayed and asked God to give you more faith. Then shortly after that, you found yourself facing some new trial in life, maybe even one that seemed too big to handle. And probably at that moment you found yourself wondering why when you asked God for faith did you get adversity instead. Well just maybe God is allowing the storm clouds to rain upon you so you can grow in your faith. When you prayed for faith you were also asking for trials, because it is an absolute truth that God uses two things – waiting and pain – to grow us up. The well known nineteenth century English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon put it this way, “Do you not know that your faith never appears as great in the warm summer weather as it does during a cold winter?” Spurgeon also said this, “God trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury but by causing them to endure lengthy marches and difficult service. He makes them wade across streams, swim through rivers, climb mountains, and walk many tiring miles with heavy back packs.”
And we see the Bible giving us a similar message. In James 1:2-4 we read these words, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way (MSG).”
So when your next storm comes, do not ask God “Why?” but instead ask, “God, what are you trying to teach me?” And always remember this… A faith not tested is a faith not trusted.