The testings in our lives
Updated: Jun 10, 2020
Why does God allow us to be tested?
I was what you would call a scholar during my school days. I topped my class, most of the time, loved by my teachers, and would always prepare for any exams or tests. But I can't say I love tests.
Strangely though, I didn't mind pop quizzes from time to time. I think mainly because I paid attention when the teacher taught us so whatever that's being taught stayed in my brain through understanding - not just one day before the test, forcing myself to memorise just for the sake of passing the test. And I actually detested memorising. That's just not my way of studying. My older cousin taught me that before, he said, "the key to pass any test is to understand the topic. Don't memorise word by word for the answer, but understand it and then you can use your own words to explain."
That has been my principle since, even in my career.
You see, I appreciate theory, but to me the real thing is the application - that's what makes me excited. Maybe that's why although I did well in school, I am not keen to take a master's degree or doctorate, even though I can get them fairly easy. I prefer to get myself in the field, doing it, and learn on-the-job. And that's pretty much what Christianity is all about, isn't it? All about application, not theory.
Don't get me wrong. Reading the Bible is not an option, we need it to nourish our spiritual man. And it's good to listen to sermons, be it from our home church or from any other source like a Christian conference. But until we apply what we read and hear (the theory), we will be like a house built on sands (Matthew 7:24-27):
Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
And one way to build our lives upon a rock, is through testing.
The testing in our lives can come in a small or big size. After all he will not allow us to be tested more than what we are able to deal with (1 Corinthians 10:13):
There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.
The word temptation there means "a putting to proof", "an experiment", which basically means a test.
We see this throughout the Bible, from Abraham to Jesus. In fact, just this morning I found that what the children of Israel couldn't do in the Old Testament, (God didn't even test them in the wilderness, but the other way around, they kept testing God and provoking Him), Jesus did in the New Testament; He was brought by the Spirit to the wilderness for one purpose: to be tested. And Jesus passed the test perfectly.
Tests are not options
Many people hate tests because they are afraid to fail and they don't want to be exposed. And with that fear they create an image of God who is mean, believing that God is out to get them, allowing tests so they will fail. But that's not the kind of God I know and not what the verse above depicts. With every test, there's grace He provides.
I believe that more than anyone else, even ourselves, God wants us to pass every test. Before every promotion, we will be tested. He cannot put His fullness, glory, power, revelation on foundations that are not tested, otherwise those will destroy us.
And it's actually a compliment when we face tests in our lives. That means God thinks we are ready. That's why Jesus was brought to the wilderness only after He was filled by the Spirit, not before. Jesus was ready. Truth is, God has more faith in us than we ourselves have.
If we are facing a test right now, look back at what God has taught us in the recent season. The answers are there. You'll know what to do and what's the right answer to pass the test. Next it's about doing it. And that's the other part of why God tests.
The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord tries the hearts. (Proverbs 17:3)
One of most impressive stories I've heard is when my uncle told me why he chose my aunt. I remember one breakfast when I was living with them for my senior years, they started talking about their past, so I jumped in and asked him, "Why did you choose her among all other girls?"
You see, my uncle has always been a very serious man and a successful entrepreneur, so I knew the answer would not be shallow.
He said, "I know your aunt was pretty, but that's not enough. I was a business partner with your grandfather, so I got to come to his house often and that's when I would see her. I know she liked to look pretty and she loved fashion, so one day I came and I brought a stack of fashion magazines from Singapore - you couldn't get those in Indonesia. But the magazines were dirty and old, not shining and new. I gave them to her and I watched for her reaction. I was pleased to see that she didn't care about the condition of the magazines, she was just happy she got those magazines. That speaks volume of her character. So I decided to chase after her and later, ask for her hand in marriage."
My uncle actually tested my aunt without her knowing it! He didn't want a wife who's materialistic, but one who would go through thick and thin with him, even though he was rich and he didn't worry about becoming poor. He wanted to make sure she marries him not because of his money.
Don't you think that's a lot like our relationship with Abba?
He wants to know if we love Him for who He is or for what He can give us. And I am not just talking about money or material things, but also about dreams, hopes, spouse, children, ministry, the list is endless.
I am sure you know about the story where God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, right? If not, I encourage you to read Genesis 22. Isaac was the promise child that Abraham dreamed of and waited for 25 years. If there's one thing that was most precious for Abraham, it's not his money or livestock, it's Isaac. And it was God Himself who gave Abraham that very dream!
Can you relate to that story?
Everything in our lives comes from Him: our children, our money, our house, our business, our jobs, our dreams. That's part of following Him as Christians: we will be multiplied and blessed because of the divine exchange that happened at the cross by Jesus. But can we still put Him above all and even to a point of obeying Abba when He tested us to sacrifice our Isaac?
What would the end of our story be?
This morning I found Abba in a very nice room, like a gallery. There were many pictures in nice gold frames hanging on the wall. Abba was standing in front of an empty frame. And I saw on its left, all the frames were empty, while on its right were frames with pictures. Each pictures was depicting the end story of a person.
I asked Abba, "What does this mean?"
He answered, "These are stories of My children."
"But why are so many frames empty? I thought You've predestined everything, which means You should know the ending right?"
He then reminded me of my wilderness test last year, when I had to make a decision to surrender and follow His plan for me or turn my back and chose my own path.
Abba said, "There are things I cannot decide for you all, otherwise I will violate the freewill I have given. What you went through last year, it had to be your decision, your choice. And no, I couldn't tell you what you would get if you chose Me, otherwise, you're not truly passing the test."
A little background: I chose Abba last year. Not knowing what the future entailed and with a past reference where following and obeying Him had cost me so much pain and hurt. But with His grace, I chose Abba, fully prepared that the years to come could be worse. Yet I chose Him. I just couldn't picture living without Him, without His presence. Because I love Him, no other reason. I gave my life to Him and I knew I was forever His. He wanted to know if I meant what I said and promised.
I then asked the Spirit, "How about Romans 8:28?"
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
I have read that verse so many times, but never really grasp the full revelation of it. But this morning I understood.
1. All things work together for good: there will be slopes and turns and valleys and hills. In other words, there will be trials and tests and failures and mistakes. But God will intervene and help bring us to our destination. Otherwise if everything is fine and goes per God's plan, you don't need this verse.
2. To them who love God: He can only intervene if we choose Him (and the only reason has to be because we love Him) during the tests. To choose Him requires faith and surrender. That can only happen when we love Him above our Isaac. When we do that, His predestined plan for us will take effect.
Remember, He will test us at a certain point of our lives because He thinks we are ready. Otherwise, He will not allow that test to come in yet. Repeat this maybe fifty times, that pretty much sums up our Christian life journey, because there are different level He wants to bring us to, from glory to glory
Abba wants us to pass the tests. That is His heart! Like Abraham. Like Jesus. Sadly there are also many who failed the tests like Solomon and Hezekiah. Samson almost failed but towards the end of his life, he chose God.
Whatever test you're facing right now, please remember God is a good Father. If He is asking you to let go certain thing, it's because He has something better for you. Trust Him even as you can't understand it yet. He will reveal to you afterward, so that you truly pass the test.
This is a lot to grasp, I know. But if the Spirit speaks to you as you read this, take time to deal this with Him, and claim the grace He has prepared for you to pass the test. You can, not by your own strength, but by His grace.