How often have you paused and considered the tests and trials you go through in life? Have you slowed down long enough to enumerate them?
More importantly, have you ever considered why God tests us? Is it because He needs to know how we’ll respond? You think that’s air you’re breathing, Neo?
I’ve heard countless sermons about God testing Abraham. The story is found in Genesis 22. God asks Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son in fire (something God later strictly prohibits). Isaac was the son promised to Abraham decades earlier and God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac. All of the sermons I’ve heard have focused on how God needed to know that Abraham viewed God as more important to him than his beloved son.
Good Teachers Use Tests
When you take tests in high school and college is it so the teacher can know your skill level? Is it so the school system can evaluate you and tailor their entire education system to meet the needs of your particular deficiency? No, you take tests to see for yourself where you fall short of the expectations of your particular educational institution. Good teachers don’t test you and then lower the standards you don’t measure up to. Good teachers test you and then prod you to do better in the areas you fail.
And we all have failed in school somewhere along the way. Even if failure to you is getting a “B.” In life, we all fail a lot.
A man in church prayed over the microphone one Sunday morning, “God, in case you didn’t know, Miss Sally Bedford is sick in the hospital and it would be nice if she got better.” The prayer is almost childlike in its simplicity and innocence, but completely wrong in its understanding. So often are we when we think of God’s tests.
God doesn’t need to see how we’ll respond to testing. He knows fully well how we’ll respond. He’s more than a good teacher, He’s the Great Teacher. Seriously, He’s really good at this. It’s not God who needs to know how we’ll respond under pressure.
Composure Under Pressure
Without knowing how we respond in times of light pressure, how will we know how to respond in times of great trial? When you enlist in the military they immediately send you through a grueling several months of physical, emotional and often sleep-deprived torture. Because they love to torture you? Some brand new privates may think so, but the truth is found in the words of General William Tecumseh Sherman, “War is hell.” The military makes sure that every recruit is tested when they can control the situation before they are subjected to the real hell that awaits; open combat.
We are at war. We have a very real enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). If you don’t think you’re at war or haven’t considered the nature of that war, then you are likely less prepared (or unprepared) for the very real hell that exists and awaits its victims. God tests us now so that we have a controlled environment in which to evaluate or own hearts and spiritual condition. As the prophet Jeremiah put it, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
As humans, we wear spiritual blinders to our own condition. Our ability to lie to ourselves and walk in self-deception is great. We need God’s testing to reveal to us the true nature of our heart in every area we are willing to give over to Him. The more we are willing, the more He will expose. The more He exposes, the more pain we feel, but the more He exposes, the more prepared we are for what the enemy would throw at us.
Know Me, God
When God tests us it rarely feels like a controlled environment. Most often it just feels like pain. But when we seek God in prayer He is so faithful to give us wisdom (James 1:5). We need that wisdom to perceive that God is testing us and not rejecting us, tormenting us or abandoning us. He loves us and He is always trying to prepare us as kingdom advancers who can lay hold of it with tenacity (Matthew 11:12).
David said it best when he wrote:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24
So what about you? Do you think God needs to know how you’ll respond, or do you think you need to know? Do you want to know? When you’re ready to know, the prayer above is a great place to start.
God is good and He always desires the best for us. Ask Him to reveal your heart and expose the darkness that hides inside and you will be in for an exciting journey that will far outweigh the pain you experience in life.