Joseph Herrin (08-19-2011)
The Trying of Our Faith
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
The faith of the saints is exceptionally precious in the eyes of Yahweh. Faith is a demonstration of a man or woman’s trust and confidence in God. This faith, in order to grow stronger, and become purer, must be subjected to testing. It is in the fire of affliction that our faith in God is not only proven, but it is able to increase.
I Peter 1:6-7
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith , being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Yahshua Christ...
My recent experience of spending 74 days in jail included a number of trials, some of them severe. I understood that these trials were an opportunity for me to show confidence in the goodness of Yahweh. In this is He glorified, when He finds His sons enduring with patience many distresses, their confidence unshaken in the reality that their heavenly Father sees all, and His love does not fail.
On May 24th I was required to appear before the courts of man. My wife, who departed from me seven years ago was seeking payment for an alimony award. The only way I could fulfill this decree was to turn aside from the ministry that Yahweh has instructed me to fulfill, and to seek secular employment. In the three times I have been called to appear before the courts of man, I received instruction from the Spirit of Christ to give no defense, but to follow the pattern of Yahshua as revealed in Scripture.
I Peter 2:19-23
For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously...
We read of Christ when He was brought before the Jewish rulers, and before the Roman rulers Herod and Pilate, that He gave no defense. Although many accusations were made against Him, He acted as a lamb that is silent before its shearers, and which quietly and meekly yields to be led to the slaughter. His response was so contrary to the fallen nature of man that Pilate marveled as he observed it.
And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, "Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?" And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so that the governor was quite amazed.
It should be noted that Yahweh does not provide any assurances to the saints, if they entrust themselves to the One who judges righteously, that He will defend them and deliver them from suffering. Indeed, the saints are in many places told that they will be bound over to various kinds of suffering as they remain faithful to Yahweh, refusing to violate their conscience before God and man. Christ entrusted Himself to the Father, and He was crucified. Peter declares to the saints that it will find favor with God if they follow in His steps, enduring with patience the things appointed to them.
In this hour it is vitally necessary that the people of God cast off every false doctrine flowing from a perverse prosperity gospel, and gird up their minds to endure patiently all that they will be called to walk through. The doctrines of a sensual church in this hour of apostasy declare that it is not the will of God for His people to suffer. There are legions of ministers, teachers, and prophets who declare that suffering is always to be resisted, sometimes militantly. Many are the Christians in this hour who are stocking up on guns and bullets, not heeding the words of the Spirit as written by the apostle Paul.
II Corinthians 10:3-4
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh...
Yahweh has an entirely different goal in mind than does the natural man. His ways are not man’s ways, neither are His thoughts man’s thoughts. In the kingdom of God, suffering is appointed to every person who would be a disciple of Christ. That the church seldom has conflict with this dark world system reveals the tragic fact that there are at present very few disciples. The church has adopted a mind where they view suffering as an enemy, rather than as part and parcel of the cross which is Yahweh’s chosen instrument to transform fleshly men and women into spiritual creations.
When I was brought into the courts of man I received instruction from the judge to return to secular employment in order to satisfy the request of my wife for alimony. To do this I would have to lay aside the ministry Yahweh has appointed to me. The Father has in many ways affirmed to me that it is His will that I minister full-time, being free to go wherever He sends, and to do whatever He requires. To maintain a good conscience before the One who bought and purchased Me with the blood of His Son, I could not fulfill the instructions of the court.
Because I hired no lawyer for my defense, and presented no arguments, those who were acting with enmity were free to do whatever they desired against me. I did not resist. I yielded freely to be taken to jail. My wife’s lawyer also announced that he was pursuing through the legal system to take possession of my checking account, and PayPal account. The judge heartily endorsed such a course. I spoke not a word as this new threat was spoken, for I had already committed my life, my ministry, my all, to the One who judges righteously. Unto Him I will make my plea, and raise my petition, looking not to the arm of the flesh for succor.
You can imagine how Satan came against me with many threatening thoughts. Yet, it is at such times that we are able to exercise those true weapons that are supplied to the saints. The weapons we have been given are spiritual, and they are powerful to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. When Satan comes with his threats, and whispers many fearful things into our minds, then we are able to counter his attacks with the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
When I was being processed into the jail, the deputy interviewing me was checking off various questions on their standard form. One of the questions was “Are you taking any medication?” I told the deputy that I was taking one aspirin a day as I had experienced a heart attack a few years back. I thought it would be good to continue taking the aspirin while in jail, so I mentioned this to them. I did not realize that this would lead to a further trial.
The next day as I was now situated in the cell which would be my home for the next ten weeks, I was called down front at what is referred to as “med call.” It is amazing how many inmates are on medication. Many of them are taking psychotropic medications to help them deal with anger, depression, etc.. Fully one third of the men in the jail section I was in were taking some form of medication.
When I stood in front of the nurse to receive my aspirin, she inquired about my heart attack, asked how I was feeling now, and said she wanted me to be seen in the infirmary to have my blood pressure checked. This was very unwelcome news for me. Many years earlier, around 1998, the Father told me that He wanted me to look to Him for my health. He led me to cancel my health insurance, to forego medical treatment for various physical problems, and to trust Him. The Father has used the ailments of my body as a scourge in my life to goad me into obedience that I might rule over the flesh.
For much of my life I have been overweight. At the very peak of my fleshly indulgence I weighed nearly 285 lbs. on my 5'-9" frame. I was very obese, and this served as an outward symbol of my spiritual condition. I was not ruling over the flesh, but was indulging it in many areas. Consequently, I was packing a lot of extraneous flesh.
Over the years the Father has chipped away at this flesh. When I was 285 lbs. I began experiencing the symptoms of diabetes. It was at the same time that Yahweh told me to cancel my health insurance. I did so, but my symptoms persisted. My blood sugar was checked one day (I worked in a hospital as a computer manager), and it was 370 when it should be no higher than 120. The ER physician advised me to see a family physician and get on a diabetic regimen, likely to include insulin. Yahweh instructed me otherwise, so I never pursued the matter further among the medical profession.
Yahweh then told me to cut the fats and sugars out of my diet. I obeyed, and within a few short months I had lost 50 pounds and all the symptoms of diabetes went away. Having reached 235 lbs., and feeling much better, I eased up, and simply maintained that weight. Yahweh was patient, and I remained at that weight for the about the next nine years.
Yahweh’s desire, however, was not to deliver me from diabetes, but rather to bring me to the place where I was ruling over every appetite of the flesh. Paul describes this battle in the following words:
Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
During these years I had continued to know in my heart that there was an area of my life in which I had not fulfilled Yahweh’s desire for me. I was often convicted that I needed to lose weight, and I understood that 165 lbs. was the goal He had set for me. My desire to gain victory in this area was not greater than my desire to indulge the flesh, so no progress was made. At times, however, I would pray that the Father would help me to become motivated that I might arise in the spirit man and begin to rule over the flesh. I prayed this just before I became diabetic, and the Father answered my prayers. He gave me the motivation I needed. About nine years later He once more assisted me. This time He used a heart attack as the instrument of His chastisement.
After experiencing the heart attack about 4 years ago, I lost another 50 pounds, getting down to 185. This represented a further flesh cutting in my life. For one brief moment, about a year and a half ago, I got down below 165 when I was led to go on a 40 day liquid only fast. But in the ensuing months I put back on 20 pounds. The Father made known to me that certain promises He had given to me in my life were contingent upon my obedience in this area. I needed to get down to 165 lbs., and remain there.
Much anxiety arose in my mind when I thought of having to explain to the Jail nursing staff why I did not want to be put on any medication for high blood pressure, or to receive other heart medications. To me, seeking to persuade those employed in the medical profession that it is not always God’s desire for His people to use their services appeared to be a losing proposition. I began to dread having to go to see the nurse to have my blood pressure checked. I knew it had been elevated before going into the jail, but not severely. The anxiety I began to experience in thinking about seeing the nurse, and facing the pressure to take pharmaceuticals, exacerbated the problem.
The first time I went to see the nurse, my blood pressure was 170/80. This was much higher than normal for me, and I knew that anxiety was a contributor. I thought that would be the end of it, however, until the nurse told me she wanted me to return the next day to have my BP checked again. This led to even more stress. All that evening and next morning, my mind kept brooding upon having to have my blood pressure checked. I knew it was not the Father’s will that I take any of their pharmaceutical offerings, and I felt sure they would spurn my reasons for this decision.
When I appeared the next day, I could tell my blood pressure was much higher than normal. I could feel my pulse beating in my temples. Satan was attacking me with great fervor, trying to find some entry to cast down my faith in God, knowing that once he found a beachhead he would be able to chip away at every other stand of obedience I had taken at the instruction of the Father. The nurse took my BP on May 26 and it was 180/98.
The nurse expressed much concern, and she said that she wanted to prescribe for me some blood pressure medication. A short time later she appeared with some Clonadine. In short form, I explained to her that I did not desire to take the medication, telling her that I believed God was using my health issues as a goad to get me to obey Him by ruling over my appetite for food and losing weight. Remarkably, she was not upset, confessing that she too was a Christian. Nonetheless, she still urged me to take the pill. I declined, and the next day when they called me in again to have my BP checked I asked if I might sign a waiver saying that I refused medical treatment, as having my BP checked daily was causing me stress in an already difficult environment. They permitted me to do so. Immediately I felt better, and could tell that my blood pressure had dropped significantly.
Satan was not through with his attacks, however. A couple of days later I received a letter from a family member who has consistently manifested an adversarial and critical spirit toward the walk Yahweh has set me upon since 1999. This family member wrote under the guise of being concerned for me, but in the short letter urged me to abandon the path of faith and obedience God had set me on. She also wrote that if I did not give into the demands of the court that I could very well have the bus/RV, that I had recently put so much work into, sold on the courthouse steps and the money given to my wife. The person writing me shared that the judge had given the sheriff’s department authority to seek out any assets and sell them to satisfy the alimony award he had granted my wife.
Satan once more sought to urge me to act out of fear, and a desire for self preservation. Satan suggested to my mind that I ought to take the bus and hide it somewhere on a friend’s property, but I knew such a carnal solution was not the Father’s will. I was reminded of the threats that Nehemiah faced as he was tasked by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
And when I entered the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined at home, he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night." But I said, "Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in." Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me.
All these attacks occurred during my first week in jail. Rather than be driven by fear, I began confessing to the Father out loud as I prayed in my cell (my cell mate was elsewhere) that God was faithful, and I would trust Him. I confessed that my life was in Yahweh’s hands, and I was looking to Him as my defender, and as a shield about me. I entreated Him to confound every scheme of the enemy, and to rebuke the adversary of my soul who comes only to kill, to steal and destroy. I reminded the Father that I had laid my life in His hands, that I had not turned to man to seek deliverance, nor resorted to fleshly tactics, but that in all things I wanted to honor Him with my faith.
These were very precious times of prayer, and I sensed the presence and pleasure of the Father as I endured patiently so many things in jail. Rather than my faith growing weaker, it increased. Considering my own utter helplessness to deliver myself from my adversaries, I leaned all the more confidently upon my heavenly Father. Yahweh sent me strong comfort, and I was truly encouraged in my spirit. My soul was like a weaned child within me. It had been quieted, and the raging storms silenced. The God of peace was walking upon the waters.
I write these words today sitting in the bus Yahweh gave to me. I still have full access to my checking and PayPal accounts. I cannot tell you why this is so in a physical sense, for I have heard nothing further from my wife, her lawyer, or the legal system. Neither do I boast in these things, for God has not promised that He would deliver us from all such loss. Many have been the saints who have forfeited all worldly possessions in order to remain obedient to Christ.
But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly, by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.
I am persuaded that perfect peace comes from entrusting one’s life wholly into the Father’s hands. When we take up human means to defend ourselves, our soul becomes stirred up. The striving of the human nature to deliver itself from loss or suffering drives out the peace that surpasses all understanding that comes from the presence of the Father. One Scripture I was frequently encouraged by in these past days is the following:
It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in princes.
I am committed to trusting God who created me, who has purchased me for His pleasure. I have often been tried in the fire, and I remain trusting Him to this day. It is not my strength that has preserved me, for I am a weak man. Yahweh has supported me. He has carried me through the fire and the flood. He will carry many more of His sons and daughters through similar things in the days ahead.
People of God, the Spirit of Christ is testifying that the days we are entering will require patience and longsuffering. It is appointed unto the saints to suffer many things. This suffering is not intended for their destruction, but rather to promote conformity to the image of Christ, and to give them opportunity to glorify the Father by their faith.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake...
The Father becomes exceedingly precious to the saint who suffers for obedience to Christ. At such times we learn how great is His comfort, and His care for us. He gives us songs in the night, and turns our thoughts away from the passing things of this world to seek those things above.
Yahweh desires that your faith should be both abundant and pure. In His love He will guide you through many trials. There is a place of peace to be found in the midst of the storms of life. Yahweh is a refuge. Let all His saints trust in Him.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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