When tragedy strikes or the unexpected bad things in life occur, people often say that it’s a test of the faith of the person to whom it has happened. It is certainly true that bad things that cause pain and suffering and sadness tend to bring one’s faith to the top of mind. For some it is a time of questioning that faith. How could God let this bad thing happen? What was God’s purpose behind taking someone that we loved away from us? Why is this happening to me? Where are you God?
Do hard times or tragic events test our faith? Maybe; or maybe it strengthens our faith. Maybe we find that the only comfort that we can find during those times is found by turning to God and seeking the strength that we need to get through it all. For many, tragedies become defining moments for their faith. They turn to God because there is nowhere else to turn that makes any sense or offers any comfort.
But what of the good times; the day-to-day regular times in our lives where we are not facing some unexpected adversity or tragedy? For many the good times may actually pose a greater threat to and test of their faith. Complacency is a far bigger challenge to our faith than adversity. When everything is good, we tend to lose focus upon faith. We may not spend time praying or asking for help. We may not spend any time reading the Bible or thanking God for what he is giving us on a daily basis. Our prayers8 at meal times or at bed time may become perfunctory recitals of memorized words with little thought or meaning behind them. The Devil lurks in the shadow of complacency and lures us away with the promised rewards of the good times. It is easy to wander away from God during the good times.
So I would submit that the good times are the greater test of one’s faith, just as doing the right thing day-in and day-out it is the greater test of one’s character than how one reacts to the unexpected adversity. Emergencies and tragedies both serve to focus us and our character and faith carry us through both; but, becoming complacent and ambivalent about things leads us to start taking things for granted or forgetting to be thankful for the peace that we might be experiencing.
The counter to complacency is the practice of good faith habits – setting aside some time for daily prayer, or perhaps to read the Bible. It involves making a daily effort to acknowledge God’s role in our lives and to give thanks for the things that we have and for the lack of hardship or suffering or loss that God has blessed us with. There will be time enough to call upon our faith during dark periods; but we must also stay focused during the good times, so that we keep our faith strong and at the ready. There is a saying about character from J.C. Watts that I like – “Character is doing the right things when no one is looking.”
I think our everyday faith is much the same and I might be phrase it this way – “Faith is living like you believe in God, even when there is no emergency.”
So, face the daily test of your faith by developing some good faith habits. Don’t just call on God for help in emergencies. Call on Him every day, maybe just to say thanks. Here’s hoping that you pass the faith test today. Keep the faith!