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Testing Faith 1, 2, 3

Does anybody else besides me get a little annoyed that the test of the emergency alert system on the television always interrupts the program, and never interrupts the commercials?

Oh, I get it. To be sure the system will work when and if it is needed, it needs a regular, routine test. In the event of a national calamity, the emergency system would interrupt all regular broadcasts and give instructions. The test is brief and necessary. But it can also interrupt the key moment of a show and frustrate the viewer.

We test things to be sure they will work properly. An electrician tests the circuits and wiring to be sure the electricity is safely flowing, so the home or business owner will have electricity when it is needed, without burning down the building. A mechanic does a road test to be sure the repair just made works properly before turning the vehicle back over to the owner. We understand that kind of testing, don’t we?

When I was growing up, my parents tested my reliability in various ways before giving me bigger responsibilities. My first solo trip driving the car at age 16 was a short trip to the store to pick up something mom needed. It wasn’t a 240-mile trip to Cedar Point (which would have been way more fun!). As I demonstrated responsibility in driving, I was trusted to drive more frequently.

Scripture tells us that God sometimes puts us and our faith to the test:

If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:1-4 NIV)

We can react to God’s testing with mistrust and irritation. God is just messing with me? How is that right? I thought God loves me and wants to bless me.

God’s revelation of Himself in His Word shows His desire for a relationship with us. Relationships get tested. And relationships that survive the tests of stress and crisis grow stronger.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4 NIV)

One of the most difficult things to discern in our walk with Christ is the purpose and meaning behind the hard things in life. A job termination. Serious injuries following an auto accident. An untimely death in the family. A cancer diagnosis. Our minds go into overdrive trying to figure out if God is mad at me. Or if He is testing me. Or if the universe is random. Or if God is even there. Isn’t God supposed to make me happy?

One time just before my birthday, I was reading a Superman comic book, which was one of my boyhood joys. Unexpectedly and without explanation, my mom told me to put it away and find something else to do. It seemed arbitrary and unfair. Why was mom being so mean? It wasn’t like her.

What I didn’t know was that mom had bought me a sizable box of Superman comic books at a rummage sale, and intended to give them to me for my birthday in a couple of days. She was concerned that the comic book I was reading was duplicated in the soon-to-be-given birthday gift, and didn’t want me to receive a book I had already read. Sometimes we misinterpret hard things in our lives like that. Without seeing the end of things, we have no idea what God is seeking to do in our lives.

Sometimes I am frustrated that I am being tested. God is patiently growing faith and perseverance in my life. And He is looking to see if I love Him and trust Him completely.

I have also discovered that another benefit of God’s testing me through the fire of hard things is that the testing shows me what my faith is made of. And that tends to grow more and deeper faith, which is the point of God’s testing. When hard things happen, it’s time to pray and discern what God is doing in my life through the hard thing. I’m pretty sure one reason God allows impossibly hard things in our lives is because that is the very place we meet the God of the impossible and know Him as He is.

One thing is certain:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)

In all things. God is working for good. You can count on it.



testing faith can be beautiful afterall

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