Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Faith...Tested or Tempered?

Many times over the years of my life, I have heard many people say, when speaking of hardships, or difficulties that arise within their lives, that God is "testing" their faith. I have heard this from people at work, at church, and in other walks of life. The idea that God needs to "test" us, is an idea, that has often bothered me. Time and time again throughout the Bible, we are told that God is an all knowing, all seeing God. Nothing is hidden from Him. He knows all that we think, all that we say, all that we do. There is nothing about us, or our faith that He would need to "test"! Far from it! He already KNOWS what my faith is, what your faith is, what our neighbors faith is........ or is not.

Let's look at the definitions of "test" that can be found at
1. A procedure for critical evaluation; a means of determining the presence, quality, or truth of something; a trial: a test of one's eyesight; subjecting a hypothesis to a test; a test of an athlete's endurance.
2. A series of questions, problems, or physical responses designed to determine knowledge, intelligence, or ability.

So, we can see here, that God would not need to "test" us. When you and I were in school, we were taught by teachers, who have no means of knowing what we think, what we believe, what we know. How do they ascertain this? They test us. They can not look into your heart. They can not know what you think. Being human as are we, they must test you, to see if the knowledge they have imparted has taken root. God does not need to test what He already knows. So, the next question is, then why do we go through the trials we face in our lives?

God's love for us, is immense, it is beyond all human capability to grasp, to understand how completely He loves each and everyone of us, even when we do things that are far from lovable. What God does, is not test our faith, but, He "tempers" it.

Let's now look at the definitions for "temper":
1. To modify by the addition of a moderating element; moderate: "temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom" (Robert H. Jackson).
2. To bring to a desired consistency, texture, hardness, or other physical condition by or as if by blending, admixing, or kneading: temper clay; paints that had been tempered with oil.
3. To harden or strengthen (metal or glass) by application of heat or by heating and cooling.
4. To strengthen through experience or hardship; toughen: soldiers who had been tempered by combat.
5. To adjust finely; attune: a portfolio that is tempered to the investor's needs.
I think, once again, we can see from these definitions, how God is working with us, in our trials, to "temper" us.

If you have ever seen a blacksmith working with metal, you have seen without realizing it, a comparison of how our trials "temper" us. The blacksmith takes the iron, and places it in the forge, heating it, changing it, and the iron becomes steel. It has been made stronger, better than it was before, because it has been tempered, and the blacksmith shapes it with the hammer, creating something new, that can now be used for an intended purpose.

So, God also does with us. He wants us, to come to Him. Rely on Him. Trust in Him. He allows us, to go through our trials, our sufferings, so that we will come to Him, place ourselves solely in His care. Then, He makes us, our faith and trust in Him, stronger, better, newer than it was before! We become, a new improved Christian. We become, someone that He can show His love, and His light through! We have become a new "tool" for God. This is why, when we face hardships, when we face troubles, when we face heartache, when we face any adversary in life, we should turn to God, and lay ourselves, and our trials at His feet, for He wants us to come to Him. So, go to your parish, go to a chapel, go to your bedroom, and lay all your cares and worries before God. Cry if you need to, but, talk to God. He is there, He will listen, and He will understand, and bring comfort. Just talk to Him, as you would any friend. He, is the greatest, most compassionate, most forgiving, and most understanding, friend, Father...the most loving creator, for us all.

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