The older you get, the more often you get tested. At least that’s what it feels like.
Apart from global crises, national chaos, political wars, and religious outputs, we each face our own sets of trials that impact us in various ways. It’s not a secret that each of us faces something in and out of every season. There’s always a level of testing that takes place as we go through life. Sometimes it’s from the Lord, other times it’s the enemy, or it could simply be a tough season which you are going through because, well, life!
Life takes its course. There are ups and downs. We will face times where our faith, beliefs, and values will truly get tested. Which is why we need to get strengthened. The strongest Christians (in your perspective and opinion) need to strengthen their faith just as much as you do.
In a few minutes, I want to talk to you about five things that have helped me get stronger in faith when I get tested. These are not formula-based. There’s no specific method or process assigned to each of these points. You may use all of them or only two, depending on what you’re going through. But with each point, I pray the Holy Spirit reveals to you how to use it to get closer to Him and stronger in your faith. Because that is the end-goal, growing in your relationship with God! The closer you get to God, the stronger your faith gets, and vice versa.
There are many reasons we get tested, but one that stands out to me the most is that it proves and purifies our faith in God. Testing causes us to seek Him, trust Him, rely on Him, and live from our new identity in Him instead of fear. Testing stretches and multiplies our faith. We often look at testing negatively because it’s uncomfortable. And most often, that’s true. But it’s important to remember that having faith, no matter how little of it you have, is enough to move mountains. Faith is an ever-growing trust in God, and I wonder, what if the testing itself is what strengthens your faith?
Something that helps me understand this a little better is from a Jewish New Testament commentary by David H. Stern. He refers to faith as continued “trust” in God. And the best way to strengthen your trust in God is to get to know Him more.
Here are five ways to get to know God more and to strengthen your faith in Him:
- Read your Bible
- Spend time in prayer
- Listen to faith-building, encouraging messages
- Talk to someone & grab hold of their faith!
- Snack on a promise
Read your Bible
The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible, but to know God.— James Merritt
When you read the Bible, it reads you, too. Meaning, anything worldly or not of God in you will get revealed and pulled out; uprooted.
Often, the trials and testing we face in life are determined by us. Your definition or description of a test will differ from mine. So, the way you “study” for it is to spend time in the areas you feel you struggle more in.
If you and I were to take an actual test, our study methods and points of focus would differ. For example, you might want to focus more on the terms and definitions of a topic, while I would look for the numbers and equations. Similarly, when we face testing in life, reading your Bible helps you get more familiar with the things you need more time in. If you struggle with patience in one season, scripture about patience will stand out more. If I struggle with gratitude, scripture about giving thanks and praising God will speak more.
There are also times when reading the Bible just gets hard. During these times, you can meal prep the Word and come up with a simple, sweet daily reading plan, even if it’s just a verse. You might not “feel” anything after reading, but understand that the Word goes into places the mind can’t. Mindless reading is also good for the spirit.
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.James 5:13
One of my mentors has taught me to turn to prayer no matter what goes on. Something good? Pray about it. Something bad? Pray about it!
If you read throughout the epistles, Paul writes to the churches to pray consistently, without ceasing, continuously, etc. It seems like a stretch. I mean, how could one pray all the time, right?
Over the years, I realize that it’s not just about verbally communicating to a higher power, being in a constant reflective state, or uttering tongues mindlessly. Prayer is your continued conversation with God within your spirit; your very being.
I don’t mean to sound Christian-ese in saying that, but you have an inner narrative already happening within you, even as you read this. In moments when you get busy in your thoughts, practice turning to God and inviting Him in. There’s value in setting aside time for prayer, but something happens along the way that starts to make it feel transactional. We bargain for blessings and trade for favor, as if the way we pray or how much and often will get us something.
Prayer, in essence, is being with God. It’s being aware of Him, acknowledging His presence, and doing life with Him. When you fill yourself with the Word, you’re going to be about God’s business, and that means praying with ceasing.
Direct your thoughts in prayer throughout the day. Make prayer a habit. Make doing life with God a habit. When you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep, continue that conversation with Him. He knows every thought, motive, and desire. And He gathers your tears when it gets hard. He’s for you, so be with Him.
Listen to faith-building messages
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.Romans 10:17
It’s so easy to access information nowadays. With a couple of clicks, you can get to any type of sermon or message about any topic you can think of. I often wonder what Apostle Paul and the early church would think of this easy access, because it’s literally at your fingertips.
But with the internet overload, there’s an equal amount of bad messages that gets communicated to us on the daily. In times of testing (actually, this could be the testing itself, too), it’s easy to give into the things that will weigh you down. Maybe it’ll make you feel good for a moment, but afterwards, you realize there was no substance.
Along with Bible-reading and prayer, take some time to listen to faith-building messages. This can be sermons, podcasts, or even worship music. Ask God to help you filter what you listen to and trust Him to let the right seeds will fall into your spirit. Because there’s so much information out there, find 2-3 places of messages you can come back to when things get hard. You don’t have to listen “regularly,” especially if you’re part of a local church, small group, and have a faith-community.
To have them bookmarked is helpful when the going gets tough.
Grab hold of another’s faith
Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up…1 Thessalonions 5:11
Surround yourself with the right people. THAT IS CHURCH. Not the building, but people.
This verse in Thessalonians doesn’t just speak to you, but to other believers. You need people in your life who can and will encourage you and build you up. And then when others need faith, they can borrow yours.
Even though faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen, it’s something others see in you. Your faith, your trust in God, is visible to those who are around you. But when you don’t feel you have any, it’s important to grab hold of another’s faith. If you could think of one person who has faith, I suggest you reach out to them.
Along with all the information out there, our social media world is not always very “social.” There are stereotypes and stigmas now about being communal. On media, people exalt themselves for being introverted and anti-social, whereas throughout the Bible, God encourages fellowship. No matter your personality type or way of behaving, we still need people. (I don’t mean to put down those who are introverted or struggle with socializing. My point is in how it’s portrayed on media).
When you experience testing, strengthen your faith by grabbing hold of another’s. People do care.
Snack on a promise
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.Hebrews 10:23
And last, snack on a promise. What I mean is, find a specific verse and/phrase for your season to remind you that this very season is happening for the strengthening of your faith. Just like we change up our snacks per cravings, we can do the same for our spiritual health. These promises become like a personal anthem, which you could “stamp” on your season.
Lately, mine has been 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says, His power is made perfect in my weakness. For a while, I didn’t want to be weak, but I went through a season of testing where I realized I need to be weak for His power to be made perfect. Along with this verse, I came up with the phrase, “look around, life is good,” because I found myself with my head down, bogged by various tasks and to-do’s, and frankly, not really enjoying life.
Snacks are little delights that help us enjoy life via food, so do the same with God’s promises over your life. Whatever you’re believing for, turn it into a snack and take it to-go.
Times of testing could be the means to strengthening your faith. So through it all, continue basking in God’s presence through His Word, by prayer, encouraging messages and people, and snack on those promises!