In 1 Peter 1:7, Paul writes about a genuine faith, one that is much more precious than gold. But he also writes, “…it is tested by fire…” This testing of our faith comes through many situations in life, both big and small, and is something that Matt, a 25-year-old lieutenant (now captain) in the US Army, has personally experienced.
Although at first glance no one would ever guess what he has been through, Matt has recently returned home from his deployment to Afghanistan. During this time he was away from his two beautiful little girls and loving wife, his friends and the rest of his family. As I ask him about this, I notice that he is vibrant and open; eager to speak about the work that God has done in his life and deeply thankful for the situations that God has used to test his faith.
A bad beginning
Right from the beginning, Matt faced fears and anxieties about being deployed: “I was kind of depressed when I was first deployed,” he explains, “because I was going away from my friends and family for a year to one of the most dangerous parts of the world at that time; it was the most dangerous part of Afghanistan as well.”
What he tells me next gives me the impression that the things he experienced were anything but positive: “Missions really never went exactly as planned,” he recalls, “You were never safe. The whole time I was deployed, there was always the possibility of rocket attacks and mortar fire. Even within a base, one is still in danger.”
An especially difficult testing of Matt’s faith came when his closest military friend was killed. “It was really hard for me to understand that it was God’s will and that it was his time to go,” Matt explains, “It really tried my faith. But what I realized is that no matter what kind of test I come in, it’s never so bad that I personally can’t overcome with God’s help. Regardless of what happens to my friends, my family, or me. And that’s what I needed to keep in mind, no matter how difficult it got.”
God was watching over me
Matt’s faith was also strengthened when he experienced that God kept him safe in very dangerous situations. He tells me about a time when he was on patrol, and the convoy behind his own had been blown up by roadside bombs. “I had just crossed that exact same path—crossed over those same bombs—and they hadn’t gone off,” he explains. “My men and I were really thankful for that and I knew that it was God watching over me.”
Through all of these circumstances, Matt experienced that God was able to give Him rest from anxious thoughts. “Eventually, I would go on patrols and feel perfectly safe—I became completely at peace as I realized that all things happened for my best, as it’s written in Romans 8:28. Whatever God allowed to happen would happen. I might never be able to go home, but if that were the case then it would be God’s will. If I remained faithful to God then I could see my family again—if not on earth, then in eternity.
“It sounds weird to say that I wasn’t afraid to die,” he admits, “but to truly believe that God has a perfect plan for me, dispelled all my fear.”
Although his experiences may be out of the ordinary for most of us, Matt has experienced that preserving faith in God is the key to overcoming in any circumstance. “For me it was in Afghanistan, but you may find yourself in a completely different situation that is equally difficult. It can look bleak at times, but there is always hope with the gospel!” he says enthusiastically.
Matt has experienced 1 Peter 1:7 as a reality in his life and has a true hope for the outcome in the second half of the verse: “… that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ”
“That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”