"Do not be surprised, beloved, that a trial by fire is occurring in your midst. It is a test for you, but it should not catch you off guard." 1 Pt 4:12
St Athanasius knew well the trials about which St Peter wrote. Five times Athanasius was exiled from his episcopal see in Alexandria, and each time, after returning, he continued to preach the divinity of Jesus without compromise and with power. Undeterred by those who wanted him to soften his stance against Arianism, the heresy which taught that Jesus was created by and therefore subordinate to God the Father, Athanasius would not retreat from the simple but important teaching that Jesus was one with his Father and the Spirit.
Faith sometimes demands great sacrifices. St Paul had to renounce his life as a Pharisee and his persecution of Christians in order to announce Good News, and his new commitment to the resurrected Christ not only cost him his standing among Jewish leaders, it ostracized him from his own family. Considered unclean, even by some fellow Christians because he refused to demand that Gentiles first become Jews before baptism, Paul remained firm in his conviction that those new to faith had only to profess the name of Jesus to be saved.
All of us will experience faith's unreasonable demands, and how we accept and even celebrate these struggles will be the measure of our commitment. Asking the Lord to free us from paralyzing fear makes the journey rich and empoweing to others.
Today, ask to see clearly what it is that faith demands.
Whose faith do you most admire?