How And Why God Tests Our Faith And What To Do About It

By: Evangelist Hyman J. Appelman

“And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him. And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him. And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believed only, and she shall be made whole. And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.”–Luke 8:40-56.

If the story that I have just read to you has only one meaning to it, that back yonder the Lord Jesus Christ raised a little girl from the dead, I say to you without the slightest thought of blasphemy or heresy, that the Holy Spirit made a mistake when He put it in the Bible; He was just wasting our time. Jesus does not often work that way any more. He does not go around saying to people, “Arise,” after they have gone out into the beyond. I believe in my soul that this story has a spiritual application. I have lived in it, wept over it; it has encouraged my heart. I hope that the Lord will use me to pass on to you some of this encouragement.

The first thing is: How does God test our faith? How is our faith tested? Second, Why does God test our faith? Third, What are we going to do about it? What does He want us to do about it? How can we gain victory in this matter of a tested faith?

How Does God Test Our Faith?

It does not matter who you are; it does not matter where you are; it does not matter whether you are an evangelist, a pastor, a deacon, a Sunday School teacher, or just an ordinary rank and file church member; it does not make any difference whether you live in Indiana or in Texas, whether you come from Arkansas or from Minnesota; it does not make a bit of difference whether you are young or old, educated or ignorant–if you are a child of God, your faith will be tested always, ever, all the time, in
three ways. There are three basic ways in which your faith will be tested, especially in the service of the Lord, and that service is what we are concerned about in this conference.

Difficulties

The first way in which our faith is tested is by the difficulties that throng us. Here was this man Jairus with his little girl back home sick unto death. She must have been very sick, because otherwise that Jew would never have gone to Jesus. That the ruler of the synagogue must have exhausted every possibility before he thought of the Lord Jesus Christ. He must have been in an extremity. He came to Jesus and told Him the story of his little sick girl, as I read it to you. Jesus started with him to his home. The man was impatiently anxious, wanted Jesus to come in a hurry. But the crowd thronged the Lord Jesus Christ so that He could not get through.

 

It is the same way with us. Sometimes these difficulties are personal. I was in school with a young man from Illinois, one of the most brilliant, one of the most consecrated, one of the most spiritual Christians that it has ever been my privilege to know. He was so far ahead of the rest of us in the seminary that it was not even funny. And just about the time he got ready to do & big work for the Lord, he was stricken down with tuberculosis. He has not preached a word since. That was thirteen years ago, and he has been in the sanatorium ever since that time. Very fortunately his people are well to do and can afford to take care of him. Difficulties stopped him. Difficulties thronged him. He could not get through.

I know of a certain church in Jacksonville, Florida, that is packing out, jamming out, pushing out its walls with the great gathered throngs. There is no room to stand many times in the Sunday morning and the Sunday evening services. It is utterly impossible for all the people to get in Sunday morning and Sunday night, either for the Sunday School or for the preaching services. They want to hear the pastor preach. The community around the church has grown by leaps and bounds. In less than a half dozen years, it has almost doubled in population. I do not mean it is a transient community. It is there to stay. The church has over a hundred thousand dollars in the bank to build a building that they cannot build. They cannot get priorities. Difficulties throng them. They are stopped by difficulties.

Sometimes the difficulties are from the outside, as that priority business is. There is not a pastor in this crowd who in his heart will not say, “Amen” to the illustrations I am about to use. Here is a pastor who has spiritual ambitions. He is aflame for the Lord. The Lord or the devil sends him a bunch of deacons with no more religion than Adam’s old fox. Every time he sticks his head up, one of those deacons raps him over the nose. Sometimes it works the other way around. I have known churches where the people were spiritual and the pastor was an abomination of desolation, standing in a thousand places where he ought not. The people had to wait until the Lord moved their pastor.

By the way, let me pass on to you my convictions in this matter. If I were a member of a church, and there was a question raised about voting the pastor out, I would vote against it. There is only one way to move a pastor and that is by prayer. First of all, if you called him without God, it was your mistake as much as his, and you will have to ask God to remove him. Then, brother, sister–my, my, I wish I could raise my voice loudly enough for every church member in America to hear my convictions in the matter–
anybody who raises his hand against a pastor, without doing it through God, will pay for it. He will pay for it, there is no question about it.

But, difficulties beset us all the time, especially in these days and times when there are so many things to do, when there are so many attractions and distractions.

Delays

The second way in which God tests our faith is by delays. Delays test us. After awhile, the crowd separated, and Jesus started walking with this man, Jairus, to his home. Then the woman touched Him. How long it took for the interchange between the woman and Jesus, Jesus and the woman, I do not
know. According to this story, it must have taken a considerable length of time; perhaps ten, twelve, or fifteen minutes. There was that little girl dying out yonder. Jairus stood there, first on one foot then on the other. His heart was just cracking within him with the agony of the thought that maybe Jesus would be too late.

When I get to Heaven that is the one thing I am going to ask God about. I am going to say, “Lord, You answered my prayers anyway. Why didn’t You answer them when I first started praying?” Delays! Delays, they just get me! I want a revival to start the minute the people begin to sing. Don’t you? Aren’t you just about the same way? Maybe you have a little Jew blood in you, too. Maybe you are just human. Delays! You just wait, and wait, and bide your time, and wait some more! Sometimes you get old, weak, sick, tired, and the opportunity seems to vanish from you. You have to wait for your people; you have to wait for the government; you have to wait for the city; you have to wait for next week; you have to wait for books; you have to wait for study courses; you have to wait, wait, wait, with the world on fire, and souls going to Hell by the millions!

Defeats

It is not only that difficulties throng us and that delays touch us, but defeats trouble us. Defeat! We are whipped! We are whipped! Jesus was through with the woman, and they started to go to the home of Jairus to heal that little girl. A man came along to say, “It is no use; she is dead.” You have done your dead level best. You have made every sacrifice you knew how to make. You have given yourself until you have no more to give. And just about the time you seem to have pushed the load over the top, something comes along and stops you. You have trouble in your home. You have trouble in your church. I know a certain young man, just a trifle older than I am, one of the most consecrated, one of the most gracious, one of the most forceful preachers and pastors that I know of. He went down to Brownsville, Texas, and was doing a greater work than any man who had ever been in that town. He had radio programs; the Sunday School was growing; souls were being saved. Just about the time he had the thing where he
wanted it, the doctor said, “You have to move because your wife cannot stand the climate. If she stays here, she will die.” Well, she is a young woman, and he loves her. What was he going to do? He had to give up his church, go a little farther up north to become an associational missionary. Not that there is anything wrong in being an associational missionary, but he was doing a tremendous work. He had a radio program that covered that part of the valley, and souls were being saved. The Sunday School
attendance was doubling. The preaching service was jamming and packing the auditorium. And, the end seemed defeat! It hit him hard, he was just whipped to the ground. He had to begin all over again and build up from the bottom.

Why Does God Test Our Faith?

Why does God permit these things to come into our lives?

You and I believe that nothing can come into the life of a Christian except by the permissive will of God. You and I know that God is on His throne, that He watches over us, that we are His children, that He is not going to let anything come into our lives except that which will be for our good and for His glory. Why do these difficulties, these delays, these defeats, throng us, touch us, trouble us, bring us down to nothing until our hearts are ready to crack under the strain? I believe there are three reasons for it. See whether or not you agree with me.

God Wants to Teach Us

The first one is, because God wants to teach, us something just plain teach us, train us. I have a boy and a girl. My pastor used to say to me, “Hyman, when you have children of your own, you will know more about preaching, you will be a better preacher than you are now.” I just could not understand what having children had to do with preaching. I had been to the ministry. I knew that Greek, that Hebrew, that studying, that practicing, had something to do with preaching. But what did having children have to do with preaching? It seemed to me that children would get in the way. You cannot study as much; you cannot pray as much with children about you. But after they came I understood. I never did know how much God loved me until I began to love my children. I never did understand the aching heart of God
until my heart began to ache for my children. I never knew how to talk about the love of God until the faces of my children began to flash before me. I never knew how it broke God’s heart to have to whip me as I did the only time I have ever whipped my boy. I tell you, I had more of a revelation of God–that is a strange thing to say, but I guess you fathers and mothers will understand what I am talking about–I got more of a revelation of God the day I whipped my boy for the first time (and I hope it will be for the last time) than I did all the three years I spent in the seminary.

There are sixteen months between the two children. The boy takes care of his sister. Every time he gets something, he wants something for her.

We were in a revival in New Orleans, Louisiana, when the boy was two and a half years old. My wife is not here so I can talk about her. She is puritanic; she comes from New England. She is a stickler for etiquette. She sure is having a hard time raising me up right! She does not want those children to believe in Santa Claus. She tried to tell that little two-and-a-half-year-old boy that there was not any Santa Claus. Now, how are you going to tell a two-and-a-half-year-old boy that there is not any Santa Claus when all he has to do is go downtown and see Santa on every street corner? Personally, I didn’t see any sense to it, but she went on. She told him there was not any Santa Claus. She told him Santa Claus was myth. We were eating dinner at the home of a deacon of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans, just before Christmas, when Santa Clauses were everywhere. My boy came to me, pulled my coat, and said,

“Daddy!”

I said, “What is it, Son?”

“Daddy, Santa Claus is a myth! Let’s go see Santa Claus!”

He did not know what the word myth meant; he thought it was some attraction about Santa Claus.

I took him downtown. We went through the toy department. I had more fun with it than he did. I asked him what he wanted, and he told me. Then I asked him what else he wanted. He said he wanted a “tar,” a “tar.”

I said to myself, “Let’s see now. What is a ‘tar’? What is a ‘tar’?” I did not know. I went home, asked my wife what a ‘tar’ was, and she did not know. Finally we went back downtown. I took him down into the toy department and asked him what a ‘tar’ was. He pointed to the star at the top of the Christmas tree. That was what he wanted, a white star. Well, that boy asks for things. He is eight years old now, and he asks for things! He wants this; he wants that; he wants a chemistry set, a doctor’s set, books, and things like that. He has a right to expect them. If I can afford them, I ought to buy them.

But how many of you think I ought to buy that boy everything he asks for just as soon as he asks for it? It would not work, would it? Why? It would spoil him. It would ruin him. He would not understand the value of things.

Do you think God has any less sense than we have? Suppose a preacher were to stand before a congregation and say, “Come! on, you sinners,” and they all came flocking down the aisle. Suppose another preacher stood before another congregation and said the same thing, and the sinners came flocking down the aisle. A third time the same thing happened, and so on. After awhile the preachers would begin to think they were some stuff, wouldn’t they? People would give them all the credit, and they would go wrong with pride. They would not amount to a hill of beans. They would stop praying,
they would stop studying the Bible, they would stop making new sermons, they would stop agonizing, they would stop giving God the glory. The same thing is true of you and me. God has to bide His time. It sometimes breaks His heart in order to teach us the worth and the value of things.

God Wants to Toughen Us

The second reason why God sends these things into our lives is to toughen us. I heard a brother stand up yesterday out there in the open air–I am not going to tell you who it was because he is sitting right here in front of me–and say, “You know, I am not bragging about the fact that I am from this state or that state or the other state.” (That is because he does not come from Texas, consequently he does not have any ground for boasting!)

That reminds me of the story that is told about the major in North Africa who was briefing his troops. He said to a company of men from Texas, “Now, men, you know we are supposed to get along with these natives. If they tell you that Africa is bigger than Texas, agree with them–but you know better.” You know, we have everything in Texas–wait a minute, I am coming to the point–we have everything in Texas they have anywhere else in America, except one thing. We do not have big trees. All the big trees that are in Texas, I mean real big trees, are transplanted. They have to be watched, and most of them will not live very long unless they are carefully tended. We do not have the giant redwoods; we do not have giant oaks; we do not have giant elms, and giant pines. We have big trees, but not the giants that grow in Maine, in the northwest country, in Canada. Why? It is not because our soil is bad; it is good. It is not because we do not have enough rain; we get plenty of rain in east Texas. It rains almost every day in east Texas, summer and winter. It is because the climate is too sissy. The climate is too soft. There is not enough frost. There is not enough killing cold. It takes killing cold to raise up those giant trees. Now it all depends on what you want to be. If you want to be a squash, why all right; but if you want to be an oak, you are going to have to go through frost. God has to toughen you.
Here is a watch. It has steel springs in it. Do not let anybody kid you; it has steel springs. What is the difference between the springs in this watch and the rails out yonder of the Pere Marquette or the Pennsylvania railroad? It is the same steel. Steel is steel. It is made from the same iron ore and made by the same process. What is the difference between this steel and the steel in the railroad track? There is just one difference, this is tempered more. Do you know what “tempered” means? It means going
through the fire. If you want to be an ugly old Pennsylvania railroad track, all right. But as for me, I want to be a hairspring. God is going to have to send me through the fire.

We will take another illustration that you women will understand. What is the difference between cake flour and bread flour, cornbread flour? Cornbread flour is gritty. You can feel the grit between your fingers. But you can almost put cake flour on your face for face powder. Why? I asked a woman what the difference was, and she said, “Why, the reason cake flour is better is because it comes from better wheat.” Yes, the farmer takes a microscope early in the morning, goes out into the field, looks around and picks out the best wheat! No, my friends, it has been ground more. It is finer. What do you want to be, cake flour or bread flour? Me, I want to be cake flour. And, if I want to be cake flour, I am going to have to go through the mill. The Lord sends these difficulties and delays and defeats in order to toughen us.

God Wants to Make Us Tender

The third reason these things come into our lives is because the Lord permits them in order to tender us. When I was a boy growing up in Chicago, my brothers and I would be sitting at the table doing homework. My father would come in from his work as a contractor, a builder. Mother would be
there. They would sit across the table from each other. They would sit for hours sometimes, he studying the blueprint of a building costing a quarter of a million dollars, she darning a pair of stockings that cost fifteen cents, or a quarter, or a half dollar. After awhile, daddy would say something and mama would answer right back. They would just “jine” right in as if they had been talking all the time. I could not understand it. It was as if they were reading each other’s thoughts.

One day I asked my daddy, “How come you and mama seem to know what each other is thinking about?”

He said, “Son, when you have been in love as long as we have, when you have lived with the person you love as long as we have lived together, when you have laughed, cried, suffered, had as good a time together as we have had, then you will be like that with your wife too.”

You know, daddy would report to mama what he had done that day. Mama would report to daddy what she had done. My father’s name is Eleazar. My mother calls him Lozhe, her pet name for him. She would say, “Lozhe, you know I went to see Mrs. Goldberg, (or Mrs. Goldstein or somebody like that) and I
had such a good time! I cried, and I cried!”

I could not understand how she could have a good time crying! I was a fifteen year old kid. I am forty-three now. I understand now. I have had a whole lot better time crying than I have had laughing. Haven’t you? I have had a whole lot better time weeping out my heart with some friend, with the Lord or with some earthly friend, pouring out my sorrows into some sympathetic ear. I am willing to go through Hell fire, if necessary, if it will make me tender, if it will make me mellow, soft, sweet. What this world needs is not somebody to beat it over the head, but somebody to weep over it, somebody to love it. That takes trouble. You cannot sympathize with that man out yonder who is in trouble unless you have had
your share of it. You cannot understand what you are talking about to that woman who is sitting by the side of a sick husband, or who is mourning the loss of a child, unless you have gone the same way, unless you have walked the same path.

What Shall We Do

when these difficulties, when these delays, when these defeats come? Jesus said, “Only believe.” “Only believe.” Keep on believing.

Refuse to Compromise

First of all, refuse to compromise. Refuse to call in the world to your help. Refuse to agree with anything the devil may suggest. No matter what may come your way, no matter how much you may suffer, no matter what anguish may beset you, no matter what tribulation may assail, refuse to compromise! God knows! He is still on the throne! He has not gone to sleep.

Keep on Praying

Second, keep on praying. Keep on praying! Keep on praying! Mueller prayed for over fifty years for six of his friends. Five of them were converted before he died. The last one was converted six months after he died. Just keep on praying! Keep on claiming the promises of God. If you do not get an answer to your prayer, just pray so much the harder! If the devil comes along to make you doubt the promises of God, just beat him back with prayer. That is the only way to do it. Keep on praying! Keep on claiming
the promises of God!

I got a letter awhile ago from a group of preachers in a certain city, asking me to come and help them in a city-wide revival. They wanted to know what I preached. They wanted to know what I believed. I wrote back to say I believed two things: first that Jesus Christ died for my sins; second, that God answers prayer. That is enough isn’t it? I have accepted Jesus as my Saviour. Now through Him I am claiming the promises of God.

Keep on Serving

The third thing is, just keep on serving, keep on witnessing, keep on preaching, keep on doing personal work, keep on studying, keep on building yourself up in the most holy faith, keep on enlisting souls, keep on growing churches, keep on conducting revivals, keep on doing what God is leading you out to do. The end will be just as glorious as was the end in this story when Jesus gave that little girl back to her father and mother.

I never get tired of telling this story. I never get tired of thanking God for it. It will make you search your heart.
Some years ago in India, an old missionary, a doctor, a medical preaching missionary, stretched out to die. About two years before that, his church had sent a young, medical, preaching missionary to India to take over the work when the old man retired or died. The old man went to bed after awhile and could not get up. Every afternoon about five or five-thirty the younger man would come in, open his portfolio, read the letters he had gotten that day, make a report, have a season of prayer. Normally he would jump up to say, “Doctor, my wife and boy are waiting for me, I had better go home to supper.”

One afternoon the young missionary walked in, sat down by the sick man’s bedside, read the portfolio, and made his report. They had their usual prayer. Instead of leaping up with his, “Well, I have to go to my wife and boy,” the young man sat there, his face quiet and solemn. The old man looked up at him, studied him a minute. He said,

“Son, there is something else troubling you about which you have not told me. If it is something concerning the work, tell me. Don’t be afraid of hurting me, tell me.”

The young man stood up saying, “No, it’s a personal matter. I guess I’d better not bother you.”

“Sit down, Son. Sit down. I want to talk to you. I am old enough to be your father. Son, tell me. If I can help you, I would be glad to do it.”

The young man did not sit down.

“Doctor, it is a personal matter. I don’t want to worry you with it. I will pray about it, and try to work it out.”

“No, sit down, Son. I want to know about it if you can tell me, if it is not a secret.”

“No, it is not a secret.”

The young fellow sat down, only too glad to unburden his heart. He opened his portfolio again, took out two letters.

“I got two letters today. One of them is from our pastor. You know him. You and I belong to the same church. The other is from our foreign missions secretary who is also a member of the church. The pastor says he is getting ready to retire. You know it is the largest church in our denomination. He tells me if I will come back to England, the church will call me as pastor. The foreign missions secretary says that if I will come back and take the church, in a few short years he expects to retire, and our denomination
will most certainly make me foreign missions secretary. Now what shall I do?”

“What do you mean, Son?”

“Well, you have been here–now I am not trying to rub it in, Doctor-you have been here a long time.”

“Yes, nearly forty-six years.”

“Your wife, your children died here?”

“Yes, my wife, my five boys all died of the same thing, tropical fever. If they had been in England, the chances are they would have been alive yet.”

“And all you have to show for it–now, Doctor, you understand: I am not trying to rub it in–all you have to show for it is little church and a few communicants.” “Yes, a one room adobe church, and fifty-three communicants, fifty-three members.”

“Now, Doctor, tell me,” the young man said, “Shall I stay here and bury my life here in India, and at the end of a half century have as little to show for it as you have; or shall I go back to England and do the greater work?”

He grew quiet. He was a little afraid that he might have hurt the feelings of the old man. The old man closed his eyes heavily. The young fellow could see the old man’s lips moving in prayer.

After awhile, the old man opened his eyes, looked up into the young man’s face, and said,

“Son, I think I can help you. I am going to die one of these days, probably very soon. I am going to climb up that steep ascent to knock on the pearly gates. The angel will open the gates, have me sign the guest register, then start me down toward the throne of grace. I will have taken no more than half a dozen steps down that golden street when from one of the sides of that glorious highway, perhaps out of the luxurious growth, will come jumping out, dancing out, running out, a brown-skinned, merry-eyed Hindu maiden. Grasping both my hands in hers, dancing up and down in her excitement, she will cry out,

“‘Doctor, I am so glad you are here! I have been waiting for you!’

“I will look down at her, and probably fail to recognize her. ‘You don’t know me, do you, Doctor?’

“‘Why, darling, I saw so many of you in India I couldn’t remember one, just one of you.'”

“She will tell me her name and say, ‘Why, Doctor, you led me to Christ. You baptized me. You preached my funeral. Doctor, will you do me a big favor?’

“‘Why, certainly, darling.’

“‘Will you let me introduce you to Jesus?’

“‘Gladly.’

“We will start walking down that street. She will point this gloriously plumaged bird, that street, this building, these saints, tell me all about them. We will come to the throne of grace. Because He is Jesus, He is not going to wait for me to get to Him. He will start down those golden steps. Just before I shall have the chance to fall at His feet, to prostrate myself before Him, that little girl will take hold of one of Christ’s hands in her free hand, bring our two hands together on her little breast, and say, ‘Dear Jesus, this man left his home, his father, his mother, his relatives, his friends. He came to India to bury himself among my people. He lost his wife, his children. He had to sit by and watch them die, unable to do a thing for them.

Finally he gave up his life. He was the first one, dear Jesus, who told me about You. I want to be the first one to tell You about him.'”

The old man’s voice died down. The young missionary sat there. After a time, slipping down to his knees, pressing his face against the old man’s body on the bed, he sobbed out, “Doctor, I’ll stick.”

And so will I! And so will you, by the grace of God! At the end of the journey, “in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” There are lots of things I do not know; there are lots of things I do not understand; but this one thing I know, we aren’t fighting a losing fight! We are fighting a winning fight. And in God’s own good time the victory will be ours.

(The original author and/or publisher of the above material is unknown.)

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