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When Jesus explained the cost of following Him, some of His disciples walked away. Yet the impact of those who didn't is still felt in the world today. By the time they wrote their epistles, His apostles had learned to see every test in life as a chance to strengthen their faith and multiply their effectiveness.
Tests of faith are opportunities to surrender something of value to God, even when we have the right not to. In a test of faith you'll feel assaulted and stretched by circumstances, yet not distant from God; tried by them, but not judged or guilty. The Psalmist writes, 'For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver... you brought us to a place of abundance' (Psalm 66:10-12 NIV). A test of faith doesn't really test anything unless it pushes you beyond your last test - past what you've already proven! If you try to run or pull back each time you reach what seems like your limit, you'll never know how much you can trust God - or how much He can trust you.
The fire that refines us like silver can come as a job lost, a relationship lost, good health lost, or a reputation lost. But with God, the end result is never in doubt. If you're wondering today, 'How much more can I take?' listen to the words of Bishop JC Ryle: 'This only we may be assured of, that if tomorrow brings a cross, He who sends it can and will send the grace to bear it.' In God's kingdom it works like this: 'Faith tested, character refined, abundance given.'