Bitter or Better?

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:6-7 (KJV) All of us who are Christian are going to have our faith tested and tried more than just once. The way we respond to those tests and trials will tell the Lord and others how far we have come in trusting the Lord. James reminds us, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-3 The Message Bible translates the James passage as “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
Our response must be that which makes us better, not bitter. The difference between better and bitter is “i”. God’s desire always is that we go through each test and become stronger in our faith. He never allows us to be tested when he knows we will fail, HE always puts us in a test that we can pass. Whether we pass or not is up to us, whether we come out better or bitter is up to us. The devil will try to get us to believe that God wants us to fail in the tests that we take so that we will be embarrassed. Nothing can be further from the truth. No parent wants to see their children fail, they wants to see them succeed while being challenged. God is no different, He wants the best for us, He wants us to grow spiritually and become strong men and women of faith. We become stronger by lifting weights as we exercise our muscles. As we succeed in lifting 20 pounds, we raise the weights to 25 pounds until we are lifting that with ease and then we raised the weight limit again until we can lift 100 pounds if that if our goal. Faith is like our muscles, as we overcome each challenge by prayer and trusting God, our faith will only grow stronger as we take on greater challenges. If we can believe God for $100.00 and we get that, we can later believe him for $500.00, and so on. God’s desire is that we grow in faith. He is not going to put us in a position with little faith to believe for a $1,000,000.00 if we have not been through the $1,000.00 level.
The “i” that makes the difference is us. How we individually respond to the tests and trials when we fail is the true test. If we are honest with ourselves, we will see that if we fail, it is our failure to do all that was required to succeed. Both Peter and James emphasize that attitude in the trial is critical, Peter “Wherein ye greatly rejoice” and James “count it all joy”. With the positive attitude entering into and coming out of the trial, the “i” does not get in the way, and we are better for having gone through the trial. But if we resent the trial, we are letting the “i” get in the way, and we will be bitter. Just like Heaven or Hell, the choice is ours. Get rid of the “i” and have a successful test. They are going to come, best make the best for us out of them, and the best for us is to pass the test with a positive attitude.

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