As always, everyone on this page has agreed to accept e-mail from anyone who wished to write to them for advice or encouragement.
As a Christian, what has been the most severe test of your faith, and how did the Lord get you through it?
Katie: I think that the MOST severe test of my faith was when MY daughter was involved in an accident! She was on her school bus going to school and the bus was the SECOND vehicle through the intersection when all of a sudden, WHAM!!! A semi that was just loaded with 22,000 lbs. of food ran the red light for the traffic going south and smashed right into her bus!!! She was 11 at that time and had NEVER experienced ANY pain worse than a headache up to that point!!! When I arrived at the hospital there was MY baby laying on a hospital gurney and was bleeding profusely from her mouth! She had broken her jaw and her left clavicle bone, and had to have 10 stitches in her head too!
I started to panic and cry, but the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart these scriptures: 1Peter2:24 "Who his own Self bore our sins in his OWN body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness----by His stripes YOU WERE HEALED," and also Isaiah 53:4-5 " Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for OUR iniquities , and the chastisement of OUR peace was upon Him AND BY HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED"
I felt such a PEACE come over me and I just knew within my heart of hearts that she would be alright! I want to say this to EVERYONE that is going through something really hard to deal with: "JESUS CHRIST, the SAME , yesterday , today , and FOREVER!" There is NOTHING too hard for the Lord Jesus Christ, that He can't MOVE your BIGGEST Mountain!! Love in Jesus Christ, Katie French a.k.a. Storming The Gates
Katie (35 years old)
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Dave: My biggest test of faith (and turning point in my walk with Christ) came when I was 28 years old. For as long as I can remember, one of the biggest fears in my life had been that I would never find someone to share my life with, and end up being alone my whole life. In 9th grade we were told to write about our biggest fear. That was what I wrote about. By the time I was about 24 or 25, I remember telling a friend that if I hadn't found someone by the time I was 30, I would probably commit suicide, and I was absolutely serious. That's how big this issue was to me. I would go out at night hoping to meet someone, then go home alone arguing with God the whole way. I couldn't understand. It seemed like a simple request for God to deal with, and yet I couldn't find that special person. At times I got very angry with the Lord. Then, one night I just gave up. I'm sure we've all said from time to time,"OK, God. It's up to You. I'm not going to worry about it anymore." about some problem in our lives. I had said it before also, but I never truly meant it down deep inside. That night, I meant it. I said,"OK. Lord, I know that if You've got someone out there for me, I'll meet her eventually when You decide it's time. And if it's Your will that I go through life without finding someone, that's OK too." The second sentence was a VERY large step for me, because for the first time in my life, my fear of going through life single was not as important as letting God take charge of my life. I decided that His WILL was more important than my WANT. To make an already long story short, two weeks later I met Shannon. Three months after that we were engaged. We got married less than a year after we met and have been happily married ever since. We just had our first child, a daughter, on Thanksgiving Day, 1996. God will do incredible things for you if you are willing to accept His will over your own in your life, and allow Him to work in His time. Isaiah 40:31, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Dave (33 years old)
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Penny: While in college I had to quit my banking job. I was a teller and really started to enjoy it. The bank was thinking of making me a vault manager. I was nervous and thrilled. I really was enjoying the money I was making as well. During this time, I was in college to become an interpreter for the Deaf. I started looking at the money I was making as a teller, then as vault manager. My focus came off the Lord and interpreting. I started thinking about quiting school and working at the bank. Within a few weeks I made a gross error. Somehow my work was showing that exactly $1,000 was missing from my station. We counted my drawer again & again. We went through all my paperwork many times. We could not find where it went. (By the way, I didn't take it.)
I was living with a roommate who didn't have a job at the time as well. Talk about having a prayer life!! We would pray together & would be constantly be going to studies to get fed the word. This was going on for about a month but during that month I felt really close to the Lord. Isn't it typical how much we pray & read when we're really in a jam?
Well, I humbly went back to my previous job: store rep. for McD's. That was the last place I wanted to work. I had tried many different places but no one was hiring. I kept telling God that I didn't want to work there again. Little did I know He was going to use me for another employee. I had been witnessing to & praying for this lady for about 3 years. One day she came up to me in tears & said she had just accepted the Lord the night before & could't stop crying. I was so excited!!! I was able to counsel with her & soon we were the two "Bible Thumpers" at work.
I believe that the Lord allowed me to go through all of this to humble me & to continue signing. Also, He blessed me by seeing this lady's life change, the one I had been praying for.
God Is Awesome!!!!!!!
Penny (27 years old)
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Dana: The most severe test of my faith has lasted over 12 years. It is a continuing struggle, and I have learned and grown so much because of it. It has taught me to honor and respect my husband, deal with rejection, deal with physical pain and stress, be honest (not just partially honest), and many other things. God knows exactly what each of us needs to bring us closer to him. If we would just learn to submit to His discipline instead of fighting against it and complaining, we would grow so much faster. Here's the situation: Ever since my son started participating in sports, my husband and he have butted heads. My husband tried to make him the best athlete he could be by pressuring him to practice and putting unrealistic expectations on him to perform above his ability. My son's reaction and inability to meet expectations resulted in long lectures that usually lead to yelling and tearing away at my son's worth as a person. Name calling and insinuations that he was stupid and lazy began to cause bitterness in my son. I tried to talk to my husband about it, but he didn't think he was doing anything wrong. Talk about frustrating! So, I went to my son and tried to patch him back together after each episode of tearing apart. My mistake: not submiting my appeal to my husband in a respectful manner or consistantly enough. Also, unintentionally, I was tearing him down in my son's eyes. Even though I tried to show him in a positive light, my son didn't see it that way. You can't apologize for someone else. Their relationship deteriorated over the years as my husband built up resentment toward his son because he didn't measure up, and he never admitted there was a problem. My son began to rebel. The grades at school dropped lower and lower. He found little ways to defy his dad that weren't noticable, but those little things were building a pattern in him that would balloon in the future. The anger in my husband sometimes became uncontrollable. He would hit my son and throw things around the room and at him. My mistake: not stopping it. I should have appealed while it was happening, physically stepped in, and appealed, appealed, appealed, until he understood it was wrong. Instead, I would wait until it was over and try to deal with my husband then. That would just make him madder. I did begin to try to make myself heard when our son was in junior high. He still couldn't see it. I began to experience severe chest pains. Later, I began to have major back pain. Come to find out, both problems were intensified by the terrific stress I had put myself under because of the situation. My mistake: not giving the situation and my loved ones over to God for Him to handle. I felt it was my job to fix the problem. God never asks us to fix problems, just stand and watch Him do the fixing. I had been confiding in my pastor some during this time. When it began to get worse, I went to him one day and he told me my husband had to be confronted. We went to him together and my pastor began to recite for him some of the things I had shared with him and counseled him to change. My husband seemed to be okay while the pastor was there, but when he left, he came unglued. He said I had gone behind his back and was dishonest with him. My mistake: I don't think I made one that time. I think he was reacting to the truth and conviction from God. The evil had to be exposed to the light. An amazing thing happened that night. We almost split up, he even had a bag packed. But God is faithful. He knew that I loved my husband and he loved me. He knew that we didn't want to separate, so He didn't allow it. Instead, He began restoring our relatonship. It took several more years before my husband would admit his wrong doing, but he quit anyway. He still lectured and cut down, but at least he wasn't hitting. My son is 18 now. The damage has been done. Several months ago, he got in trouble with the law. After the judge released him into our custody, my husband saw what he had done. The truth of his mistakes hit him square in the face and he could justify it no longer. He went to his son and asked his forgivness and told him he wanted to fix the relationship no matter what. Temporarily, my son was ecstatic. They were best of friends for a while, but after all that time, my son was watching and waiting for his dad to slip back into the old ways. It only took once. My husband lost his temper one night. The next morning he apologized, but it was too late. He completely shut down all communication. He went back into an old habit of his: lying. He would say what you wanted to hear and then turn around and do the opposite. He has moved out of our house, now. My husband is angry and bitter. Sometimes I think he hasn't learned a thing. I know my son hasn't. But I have learned so much. If I could do it over, I'd surely do things different, but I can't. So I chose to learn from the mistakes I've made, receive God's forgivness and move on in His Spirit. I must stay out of the way so that God can bring the two of them back together and back to Him. In Christ, Dana
Dana (37 years old)
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Shane: The most severe test of my faith has been living with non-believers. For the first three years after I was saved, I was still living with my parents. Both were non-believers. They were constantly trying to push my buttons. I was always trying to be a good witness, but sooner or later, I would crack. When I did, they would say something like: "Some Christian you are!" This was terrible because I knew that my witness would be affecting their decision for Christ. Somehow the Lord got me through it. So many times I wanted to just move out, but there were just too many obstacles in my way. I know now why God had me stay there. After three years my parents finally accepted Christ as Savior and were "born-again." Shortly after that, the Lord provided the means for me to move out and live on my own.
Shane (26 years old)
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Betty: The times that come to mind have been these past few years. Before, we always had enough money; got what we wanted when we wanted it; had perfect credit; you know, the American way of life! Then things fell apart. We lost our credit. We lost our financial soundness. We had nothing left. We had to call on the kindness of others MANY times to pull us through horrible financial hardship. It was rough. We had a time, when a neighbor came with bags of groceries, that we gratefully, and humbly accepted them. For people who have always EARNED what they had and been proud of that; for people who believed in hard work and earning their OWN way, not TAKING FROM SOMEONE ELSE, not using what we never earned, not taking from another's success, this was a hard pill to swallow. We were unable to make it on our own! Many times we had to rely on the kindness of others, or we would not have made it. This was a true test of our faith.
Coming from the backgrounds we had both come from, the temptation was there to just give up, and return BRIEFLY to our criminal pasts, just long enough to get the money together so we wouldn't have to beg and borrow. But, OUR FAITH stood in the way! We were required to RELY TOTALLY ON GOD to meet our smallest, and EVERY need. He used many people to do this. There are still struggles financially for us, yet THE LORD meets our needs JUST IN TIME! This is a hard way to live. There are times when the money comes THE DAY the phone will be shut offl THE DAY, not a week early! Life like this has built a stronger faith! To not be able to rely on your own skills, but to rely totally on the provisions of THE LORD requires faith! Temptation to give up; temptation to return like a dog to your vomit; that is what it feels like. You know it is wrong. You know you don't want to return to the old ways, but still, when the kids have no coats that aren't huge, when the cupboards are bare, when you don't know if you have enough gas to get the kids to school for the week, when you know the lights, and heat will be shut off if some miracle doesn't occur....then, a miracle DOES occur! Just in time the money is provided. Just in time a neighbor appears with bags of food. Just in time, always just in time! YOU PRAISE GOD FOR HIS KINDNESS. YOU THANK HIM FOR HIS PROVISION. You ask HIM to allow you to make your own way and He says, "NOT YET!" This makes you humble. This breaks your spirit. This removes pride from your life! I am certain this has made my faith grow! I know I trust the LORD to provide for our NEEDS! I have been taught through these times the difference between needing, and desiring! MAJOR DIFFERENCE! Needs, THE LORD stated will always be met. Desires...well, sometimes you've gotta wait! Sometimes the LORD says NO! Sometimes faith is made stronger through hardship and suffering.We have been made humble. We have been taken down a few notches. There were times our marriage was at risk, but, again, the LORD came through! We doubted each other. We doubted our abilities. We wondered if we had somehow gone from "go getters" to "lazy bums!" This stuff can, and occasionally did, eat us alive! The sadness was profound! The grief, as to one who had lost their mate! The feeling of walking FOREVER straight up a cliff was ALWAYS there! Still, the LORD would break through. THE LORD would remind us that HE LOVES US. This has been the LONGEST test of our faith. This was not a brief period (yes, I am certain in GOD's time it was brief), however in our time it was 5 years! We are not "out of the woods" yet, although we both see the daylight. We can almost touch it! Our marriage is rock solid! Our trials have not divided us as the devil would have liked. Our trials have united us. Who but my husband could really understand ALL my heart? ONLY GOD! I hope exposing this will assure another who is walking thru the "flames" that GOD will not allow you to be burned. Yes, as Daniel stayed with the lions; as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood in the flames; as CHRIST wandered in the wilderness; we all have the times that TEST our faith, our STRENGTH, and although these times seem unsurmountable, we must "rest assuredly in HIM," and we will walk forth from the lions' dens of our own lives. We will not be burned by the flames. We will not be held captive forever. We will overcome, and our trust will GROW in GOD's provisions for our lives.
Betty (35 years old)
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Kathy: Believe it or not, I'm in the midst of one of the most faith-challenging times of my life! There is room for disagreement within Christianity on non-essentials, and how we as individuals perceive it. The most important thing is to keep one's heart open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, as "He will guide you into all truth." Unfortunately, I am in disagreement with a leader in my church over an issue that's not actually Biblical. It's an issue of what is "clean" and "unclean"...sound much like what the Pharisees were into? That's what is at stake here. It's one of those things that you may see differently than I do, but both of us remain right (or wrong), as it's the heart that the Lord is concerned with. In this particular issue, I'm not being given that freedom. I had mentioned before that I grew up in a cult, and I'm not seeking to go backwards and set up all kinds of rules that aren't part of "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." I need to have faith that the Lord will lead the way and do the work within both of us for this to be resolved. But nothing is impossible with God, and all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! Shalom, Kathy.
Kathy (36 years old)
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Rick: I don't know where to begin on this question. There have been many times in my life when it's been rough, but in my memory (which I'm not real sure of) I can't remember a time like the last few years! It started with losing my business in California. I've lost before, but I've never had it go on, and on, and on, . . . you get the picture ? Everytime I think I'm about to get back on my feet, I fall flat on my face again. For those who don't know me, I've always had a touch for making money. I've lost before, but rebounded quickly. Take this year; I've had lots of work, but between two heart attacks, and flaky help, I'm in a lot worse shape than when the year started. If I didn't have THE LORD TO LEAN ON, I would have had a .38 caliber "sucker" a long time ago! And it's not just me. It seems everywhere I turn Christians are having a rough road, but I believe that is the LORD is separating true believers from the make-believers!! Through faith in our LORD JESUS we will all make it through. Look at it from this point of view: a hundred years from now in Heaven, what will all of this matter? So, thank you, Jesus, for another day, and we await your return!!!!!
Rick (45 years old)
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Michael: Probably the toughest time was in the first year of getting saved. At first I was on fire for God. I would sit on a bench at junior college and read my Bible in hopes someone would stop and ask me what I was doing. Then into the second week, I started to doubt. I doubted pretty bad. It seemed that I was swamped with new information about God and it was hard to take in. I wasn't mature enough of a Christian to deal with it. Everyday was a fight just to hold on to what I had. Little did I know that satan was just using my emotions against me..to throw me off. But the Lord stood by me and kept me. I felt like He was testing me, to grow me, to teach me to rely on His power. It is a year later and I don't doubt anymore. I know He is Lord and I still rely on Him.
In Christ, Michael Granger, 2 Samuel 22:2
Michael (20 years old)
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Rafael: The worst trial of my faith was the death of my mother, and the suffering it meant to my whole family, especially my father who is a pastor and has served the Lord loyally for so long. After that I felt very lonely and filled with anger, but I still needed God. After some time, my life was even lonelier without God, and, as always, He looked for me and gave me His hand. I understood that the trial I went through helped me be of consolation to others, and I really did not have that much to argue about. I had a loving mother and now she is in Heaven. I'll see her again in a better place. His love is with us always and God never fails. I thank him for being patient with me and for giving me the understanding I needed.
God bless you, Rafael
Rafael (18 years old)
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Leslie: My faith was challenged when I began to stand in faith for the health of my unborn child, although statistics didn't hold much hope. My age, minor health problems, the father's occupation which exposed him to toxic chemicals (the majority of his co-workers had children with disabilities or deformities due to their line of work), and other things, were very real threats to my unborn child. Through studying the Bible I knew that God could do anything. All I had to do was believe. Luke 1:37: "For with God nothing shall be impossible."
However I was finding it hard to have faith in God and His word. I finally asked Him, "Lord, why am I having such a hard time with my faith and trusting you?" I very clearly heard this small still voice say to me," You can not believe because you see Me as a man. I am not a man that I can lie." Titus 1:2(*KJV): "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;"
The Lord revealed to me my doubt and unbelief in men, because of all the pain that they had caused me (rape,abuse,abandonment). But God is not a man, so, therefore, there is no comparison. The Lord, as awesome as He is, removed ALL the anger, bitterness,and pain that was buried so deep within me, once I asked Him to. With this out of the way, I found it easier to stand in faith for the health of my baby. I continously confessed God's word over my child.
He was born February 14, 1996, beautiful and perfectly healthy! Praise God!
Leslie (35 years old)
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Leslie used this poem in her answer to last month's question. I liked it so much that I decided to keep it posted here.
As children bring their broken toys with tears for us to
I brought my dreams to God, because He was my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help with ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,"How can you be so slow?"
"My child," He said,"What could I do? You never did let go."
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