Crucibles of Faith
Many military training programs include a component designed to put pressure on recruits. In the U.S. Marine Corps, it’s called “the Crucible.” It’s a grueling, 54-hour field experience that involves food- and sleep-deprivation, 48 miles of marching, simulated combat, and a wide range of problem-solving exercises—i.e., crises the recruits have to manage with on-the-spot creative thinking. There are all sorts of obstacles and simulated injuries along the way. And if one team member is left behind, the entire team doesn’t pass.
Finally, after a forced march up a steep hill, the test is over. The Marine Hymn plays, the recruits are now called Marines, and while they never want to go through the experience again, they are glad they did. It changes them forever.
In many ways, that’s the life of faith. It’s grueling. It includes all sorts of surprises and crises that have to be dealt with. And it isn’t a solo experience; the whole team has to come through. It changes you forever.
Faith only increases when it’s stretched, and the more extreme the situation, the faster and stronger it grows. But that’s God’s way for everyone who has been called in his kingdom. There’s often no glory in it, at least for the moment; and it can look extremely mundane or menial, perhaps even depressing. But there’s purpose in the process.
In the end, hymns will play, glory will be revealed, and a celebration will erupt. We will look back on the walk of faith with satisfaction and joy. In the meantime, we have every incentive to endure it well. The crucible of life is working a deep purpose in our lives.
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