Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Judy Lentz 

Testing of your faith develops perseverance

James 1: 2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Earlier today, as I drove through a country road near home, I noticed a church sign that read “Tests make good testimonials.” The sign caught my attention and quickly reminded me of a time when I faced trials as my faith was being tested and as a result the testing of my faith developed perseverance in me.

As a young girl, I belonged to the Methodist Church in Coraopolis. When I was in eighth grade, I had the opportunity to go to our church camp, Jumonville, for a week with other church friends. While there, I met Rev. Dippolitto – isn’t it strange how some names stick so firmly in our minds? His compassion and charisma helped me overcome my awkwardness when he encouraged individuals to come to the altar if you had a worry that he could help you pray about.

After accepting his invitation, I vividly remember telling him about my father’s alcoholism and how I had prayed and prayed and prayed that he would stop drinking. I said that God was not answering my prayers and I couldn’t understand why. Rev. Dippolitto helped me understand that God has a plan that will be revealed in time – not one that always matches our timeline so I should not be discouraged but instead remain faithful and continue to pray. In the meantime, our family continued to struggle with the many trials created by the disruption alcohol causes in the family dynamics.

Perseverance describes my behavior for another seven years. I faithfully prayed – day after day, year after year never giving up, remembering the wise counsel of Rev. Dippolitto. I didn’t know what God’s plan was but I trusted that it would be revealed in time. In the meantime, my father continued drinking caused him to lose all that was near and dear to him. He lost his family, his job, his health and finally his dignity - all due to the sin of alcohol.

At his lowest point, he was admitted to Sewickley Valley Hospital on the verge of death. Dr. Charles Clarke, who no doubt was part of God’s plan, was able to convince my father to quit drinking.

 For the first time in my life to that point, I met the sober man I had heard so many wonderful stories about. That’s when I came to recognize the pure joy of faith, perseverance and gratitude to God for revealing His plan and showing His faithfulness to me in answering my prayers. Yes, tests do make good testimonials, wouldn’t you agree?

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father – thank you for testing us and developing our perseverance so that we might be able to experience the pure joy that comes only from you. It is often hard to understand why we are being tested. Give us the strength and courage we need to persevere and trust that with patience, your plan will eventually be revealed to us. Amen.

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