The Trial of Faith
Luke has just finished writing about the parables of the Lord, where he has pressed the point that genuine faith is evident faith (v1-21). If there is no fruit on the branch then there is no faith in the root. Faith that begins is faith that preserves – “faith without works is dead” (Js. 2:20). A person that is saved can never be lost but it is equally true that a person who is saved will overcome; “for whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 Jn. 5:4).
Genuine faith however will be tested – we do not know when, we just know that it will. It could be any day and here we read “it came to pass on one of the days” (DBY).
It is clear that it was the Lord who initiated the trial for he said, “let us go over unto the other side of the lake”. He knew the storm was coming, and yet he directed the disciples into it. The tribulations and circumstances of life do not come upon us by chance, but according to the sovereignty of God. He sits on the throne and “whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places” (Ps. 135:6, NKJV).
Even though the Lord ordained the trial he was with his own through it. From start to finish he was there, for he said “let us go”. The Hebrew writer says “be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).
Testing can come to the most obedient Christian and to those who walk with Christ. Despite the disciples obedience to the command of the Lord, the storm still came.
What was different in the boat was that the Lord was silent and seemed inactive. The fact that he was asleep as the storm crashed on the lake did not mean that he wasn’t in control. Their surroundings had changed but the Saviour had not; silence did not mean absence. Their perception of him had altered, but he is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Our feelings and circumstances vary wildly, but he ‘changeth not’ – may we depend on him.
The disciples had the Lord’s word that they would reach “the other side”. With his word behind them and a secure destiny before them they should have been able to navigate the storm. These truths can also aid every Christian throughout the vicissitudes of life. Let us hold fast to his word, and have our eyes fixed on glory.
As the boat was filling with water, their initial reaction seemed a good one – “they came to him”. The hymn writer says ‘take it to the Lord in prayer’.
However, it was not a request of faith that the issued from their lips but rather one of doubt. To say "we perish” was to question the ability of the Lord Jesus to save. This was an indictment on his character as Saviour. Nothing could be further from the truth; his own can never be lost. Paul asks the question “who shall separate us from the love of Christ? … I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:34 – 39).
As the storms of life come upon us may we never doubt the steadfast love and goodness of God, for he is “too wise to err and too good to be unkind” (Spurgeon). Charles also said “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages”.
One result of the trial was that the disciples had a greater appreciation of Christ. They were drawn closer to him and understood that he was the Captain of their salvation. He as the sovereign Creator is in control of all. The disciples further learnt of their own impotence - as proud hearted people we also need to understand our weakness, and that it is grace alone that preserves us.
Just like Job the disciples were never told why they were tried, but we do know that the Lord had a purpose in it all. As clay in the potter’s hand we often cannot understand his ways. However, one purpose for this trial was that there was a man on the other side of the sea that needed to be saved. Legion was not known to the disciples, but he was known to Christ. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Eternity will unfold to us the reason why God has dictated every trial according to his sovereign will. In the meantime, may we trust him each day.
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colours.
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
- Author Unknown