Faith as a gift or the result of exercise?

I recently read a statement of someone saying that the only way to build your faith is to endure trials, as if difficult times are only some kind of exercise for the soul. I will admit that after a period of difficulties we can often come out on the other side with a stronger faith, but I feel that the statement above is giving too much credit to the individual, as if it is through suffering that we can pump those spiritual muscles to get better and better! Look what I did!

In reality, I feel that faith comes from God as a gift, and that it is the gift of faith that helps us to get through those rough patches, not the other way around. As Pastor B. stated in his sermon last week, God is with us, no matter how difficult things are. It is God who comforts us, who gives us hope, eases our anxieties, and yes, if it is his will, also gives us healing.

These gifts are the miraculous, unearned gifts of grace, and all he asks from us is that we give him our trust and love, that we turn to him in our sorrows. I pray for healing and the gift of faith for those who are suffering in this world. May the Lord bless them and keep them, may the Lord make his face shine on them and be gracious to them, may the Lord turn his face toward them, and give them peace. Amen.

— James T., President