By Kathi Pelton
The words, “Testing 1, 2, 3, 4” are most often heard when a person is doing a microphone sound check. It is to check clarity, levels and balance. So, it was interesting to wake up hearing these words. It is like a heavenly sound check is taking place. I then heard these words from the Book of James, chapter 1, verses 2, 3 & 4,
“2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
I wonder if too many of God’s people are trying to figure out what is going on by gauging the world around us? I hear statements like, “This is what I heard but this is what I see.” I surely understand and I get why there are questions, concerns and confusion. Personally, my world has been altered on so many levels but then I remind myself of Bible story after Bible story where absolute defeat turned into a greater victory than expected when the narration of events was written by God and not man. Here are just a few…
Young Joseph was given a dream and a coat of many colors that promised him authority, honor and favor but the promise did not play out like Joseph thought they would in his young mind. God’s narrative quite honestly seemed at best cruel and harsh; betrayal, slavery, isolation, abandonment, false accusation, imprisonments— but then the promise came to pass. The journey looked nothing like the dream but the outcome was so much greater and saved a nation in a time of great famine!
Then there was Moses. He went to Egypt as a deliverer of the Israelites but I guarantee you that each time he told Pharaoh to “Let my people go!” and the Israelites labor was increased and plagues came upon the land that they most likely not only questioned his authenticity but also did not view him as a deliverer. I imagine the accusations against Moses and Aaron were numerous. But God’s narrative once again played out much differently than even Moses expected. Not only were they delivered but their enemies were defeated.
Let’s not forget Lazarus! He was a personal friend of Jesus; a family friend where he found a home. Basically, Lazarus was an “insider” and counted among Jesus’ inner circle. When he gets sick his sisters know what to do…go get Jesus! Surely he will not let his personal friend die. He will come quickly and heal his friend. But no. He delays and almost seemingly strolls without any urgency to the home of his friend. He’s not only late, but Lazarus has been in the grave for days. The pain felt by all is real and raw. The questions of “where were you” and “if only you had been here” were intermingled with such deep grief. Yet, once again our God was not late but He was narrating a different story than anyone understood. The natural was not going to dictate the sovereignty of God or His ways. Although Lazarus was dead and it appeared final (nothing could be done)— then Jesus showed up and spoke, “Come forth!”
Last, Jesus came through a virgin birth, lived a sinless life, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, fed thousands with only a small lunch and raised the dead. His disciples knew He was their long awaited Messiah. They had such hope, such promise and so much confidence in Him. They had seen the miracles and watched power flow from His hands. They knew that victory had come into a world of oppression. But then their precious Jesus was arrested, betrayed, beaten, crucified and put into a gave. Can you imagine the grief, the shock, the confusion and the questions. I am sure that there were many moments of great division as His disciples and followers tried to figure out what had just happened and who was at fault. I would imagine that there were fingers pointed at one another and accusations made. Pain often looks for a reason or for “what went wrong and who is to blame?” It was not a pretty sight…where had love and unity gone? But then the third day came…God’s narrative once again prevailed in the greatest victory known to mankind happened in the greatest moment of division and despair.
Here we are again…
2021 has begun with what many are perceiving as the greatest defeat they have seen in their lifetime. An increasingly horrific global pandemic, oppression and evil manifesting like the plagues of Egypt, economic ruin for so many and the shock in America upon a church that prayed, repented for the sins of their nation, humbled themselves before the Lord and walked in faith regarding what they heard the Spirit speaking to them…then the opposite happened. But even when the narrative on earth looks nothing like what we thought it would— does that mean that we have been defeated? It surely looks like absolute defeat (for our freedom, for the unborn, for our children, for our safety and for righteousness to prevail). But God…
In this place of what appears to be contradiction to our faith suddenly fingers are pointing at one another, people are in pain, in grief and in confusion. They are looking for someone to blame or clinging to the narrative that they thought would occur. But God’s narrative always has a deeper work to be done.
What if the “testing of our faith” is upon us so that we become steadfast, complete and lack nothing? Maybe in the midst of emotional turmoil and deep grief we should stop trying to figure out the Almighty and begin to “count it all joy” that our faith is being tested. Maybe we should stop pointing fingers and instead raise our heads so that we see the face of God. Maybe…just maybe, a much deeper work is being done.
For me— my personal losses and pain is bringing up dross that needed to be removed. Places that I didn’t even know that I had held unresolved issues have suddenly been uncapped so that I can be washed and purified by His blood.
This is my “sound check” moment. It’s like God has put a stethoscope to my heart and is saying, “Testing, 1, 2, 3, 4.” I believe this is happening for all who are willing. He’s clearing and purifying the sound of our hearts. He’s balancing and aligning us to His heart, His ways and His pure sound. He’s removing every obstacle that blocks the pure sound of His good news and perfect love.
This is our James 1: 2,3,4 time. Let us count it all joy and then watch a greater victory than we ever imagined come forth as we see a bride without spot or wrinkle emerge. We have not been defeated…we are having our faith tested and it is time to allow Him to make every adjustment needed.
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