“I think I’m going to fail,” my son mumbled about his upcoming standardized test at school. “You can’t fail,” I explained. “It’s just a test to let the teacher know where you stand. She needs to know your level, so she can plan for the third grade.”
I recalled my years of training to become a teacher. I knew the importance of testing, but I also knew how nervous it could make the children. I tried to encourage my son to do his best, so that he could let the teacher know what things he mastered and where he needed help.
The conversation led me to think of some of the tests in my life lately. If God already knows everything, I wondered, then why does He test us at all? He knows the outcome before it even happens. I spent some time in prayer and in God’s Word looking for the answers. I’d love to share with you what I found.
1. The one who learns from the test is you.
While our children are tested for the benefit of the teacher, we are tested for our own benefit. When we go through trials, it brings us to a place where we learn more about ourselves.
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Genesis 22:1-2 NIV
God used this test to teach Abraham that he truly could depend on Him to provide. Abraham was willing to give his long-awaited child back to God, and God instead provided a ram for the sacrifice.
Often we don’t know how much our faith can be stretched until it’s tested.
2. Testing is a catalyst that brings us to change.
When we are riding the fence of faith, God can use a test to push us to the other side. We become who God wants us to be only through the trials of the test.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. Exodus 16:4 NIV
The Israelites weren’t completely dependent on God at this point. They knew He was powerful and He was the God of Moses, but it wasn’t until they were tested that they learned to fully depend on Him. God wanted His people to trust Him to meet their needs daily. Through the test, their relationship with Him changed from one of distance to one of intimacy. He became their personal God.
3. Testing makes us stronger.
To discuss this, I must talk about heating steel. The hardness of steel is created by the degree at which it is heated and cooled. When it has been heated to cherry hot and then plunged into freezing water (Ever been in a test that felt like this?), the steel becomes stronger. Steel that has been slowly heated and slowly cooled is much softer.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 NIV
Paul had this one figured out. He tells us, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.” (2 Cor. 11:24-26 NIV) And I would venture to say Paul had one strong faith.
God already knows the answers, but more importantly He knows the person you are going to become. So next time you find yourself in the midst of a trial, stop and remember God is just bringing you to become the person He created you to be. And in that, find peace.
This is a post originally from June of 2009. It speaks to me again today. Are you being tested right now? Stand firm and cling to God.