Fool Proof

Death was not long in coming. Mark Wolford died on Sunday afternoon, just hours after being bitten by a rattlesnake. The West Virginia preacher was part of a small sect of Pentecostal Christians that handle snakes to prove their faith. In spite of feeble biblical support and numerous fatalities, the practice continues to be passed down from generation to generation. As a 15-year-old boy, Wolford saw his own father die from a snakebite. These are hard bought lessons that are not being learned.

Depending on our temperament, our first response varies from compassion to outrage. But we can all agree that this kind of foolishness is killing people and making a mockery of our faith. There is nothing to be gained by toying with venomous snakes. It’s just stupid. There may, however, be some gain in considering Wolford’s motives.

Wolford believed that he was testing and proving his faith. And while I see little-to-no likeness in our ministry methodology, I too want to prove my faith. The damning twins of comfort and apathy constantly threaten my faith life. I know, all too well, the need for something to shake me from my daze and spur me on. But, ‘it’ should not have fangs!

While we certainly need to exert ourselves in doing good, the bible seems to place the proof test in the hands of another. Our faith is proven and tested by God himself. It is he that is finishing the work he has begun in us. Fortunately, this means that we won’t get bit. Unfortunately, it does mean that we will get hurt. The apostle Peter tells us that life’s many sufferings are designed to test, prove, and perfect our faith.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6–7)

Sunday may have been a bad day for you. The days before and since then may not have been any better. It could be that this is a hard season for you and the promised silver lining remains absent, things are just not looking up. Do not despair! God’s testing is often severe, but it’s never fatal. On the contrary, it is his pruning that makes new life possible.

Enduring through tough times is not fun. Brokenness is not fun. But before you try to escape into some diversion, think it through. Maybe this testing is for your good? Perhaps your faith is being refined? I believe that these troubles are severe gifts from God that are certain to sanctify us. They can be heavy on the heart, but their effectiveness is certain—they are fool proof.

5 thoughts on “Fool Proof

  1. The deserts in life are not usually in our plans… . they are hot, dry, uncomfortable and just plain inconvenient at best. The thing is…they are also inevitable. We don’t get to plan them, but I am convinced they are planned for us. We went through a 7-year period of desert living and sometimes despair was as close as the next breath…But GOD WAS ALWAYS CLOSER. We encountered unexpected oases and springs of life along the way and experienced the presence of God in precious ways. During those times we came to understand what is essential and what is just ‘nice to have’. The thing about deserts is that He calls us THROUGH them–it’s a journey, not a destination. We are so grateful for the journey and the lessons we have learned along the way. If you are in one, pray for grace and endurance and HOLD ON…keep moving forward. Rest at the oases and keep your heart open to His voice. He has so much for you…………

  2. This is a sadly overlooked truth. There are times of struggle and times of despair. It would seem that the hardest thing, in my limited personal experience, is to remember in those times that the Lord is near. To see and recognize that it is a test. The best reminder I’ve found is that of Romans 5:3-5
    “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

    The suffering we go through is there to prepare us. I’m in the military and there is a fun saying that goes “if it ain’t rainin; it ain’t trainin.” which illustrates this rather well. The military knows, if a soldier can do something in the rain, they can do it pretty much any other time as well. In the same way, suffering builds our ability to persevere and not only to persevere but to thrive in Christ when the chips are down.

  3. I heard another story from my daughter about a gentleman who went to a revival where the man not only handled snakes, but put his leg in a box of them and shook them. He said to the guy next to him “Wow, he’s got a lot of faith.” The guy next to him said “Yeah, he’s got a wooden leg, too.”

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