By Jennifer Miller
My previous blog was about taking chances and beginning the search to find Jesus. Today, I would like to explore the joy we can obtain through testing. Yes, you read correctly, I said finding the joy in our tests/trials. Allow me to expound on this a bit more.
When we were children, we tended to think everything was great and wonderful. Each day became a new adventure filled with anticipation or excitement. As we got older our new experiences made their way onto the path of our lives and challenged us deeper. They could result in uncomfortableness, tension, and yes, they can be painful to walk through. As our body was growing so were our minds. Each day was a new discovery about us and our responses (emotions unfortunately included), resulting in learning about the environment around us. We were taught these lessons for a reason. God is not vindictive, and He does not aim to cause us harm. However, He does want us to grow into the person He designed us to be. That path will and does consists of many thorns. However, we need to stay focused and learn how to recognize these thorns to either deal with them or remove them.
God is upfront. He established what His laws are and how we are to live under them. He placed these laws in His Word for us to learn and lean upon as we encounter new experiences that allow us the ability to make wise choices. I rely on The Bible to stay connected with God. It is alive and He does speak to us through it. Below I will list a few verses scattered throughout the Bible that show us the necessity of testing. God stresses His point through repetition. There is a reason a subject is mentioned multiple times.
Keep in mind that everyone gets tested. There are no exceptions, and you cannot talk yourself out of it. Read Genesis 22:1-22 when Abraham was told to sacrifice his son to God. His obedience to God was tested. In Psalms 26:2 we seek and ask God to examine our hearts so that we would be faithful and transparent to God.
Genesis 22:1-22: “Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.” Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. Sometime later Abraham was told, “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.”
“Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;”
Along with this in 2 Corinthians 13:5 we are instructed to examine our hearts to become accountable for our actions.
“ Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”
Just as important is how we are to look out for one another – especially those who cannot look after themselves as Proverbs 31:8-9 states.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
He teaches us this principle because of His deep love for us as Job 7:17-18 can attest to.
“What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention, that you examine them every morning and test them every moment?”
He instructs us in 1 Peter 1:17 and Exodus 16:4 the importance of following His law and instructions; whereas we can see His Sovereignty displayed and how we are to revere Him as noted in Deuteronomy 8:2-3.
“Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.”
“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.”
“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and allowed you to be hungry and fed you with manna, [a substance] which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, so that He might make you understand [by personal experience] that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”
Testing can provide benefits for the believer. Let us look at James 1:2-3; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3; and 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 to explore this further.
“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.”
“This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”
“ He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.”
“…or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” \
Testing makes you stronger. When faced with a trial we learn to persevere. Our Lord uses these tests to remove the dross and refine us to make us sanctified in His eyes. When we are aligned with the will of God, we are used to doing the work of Christ and serve for His righteousness.
Finally, it grounds us – humbles us. It demonstrates that we need to depend on Him and that is more than sufficient.
God does not want to harm us, but teach us how to love, how to grow in our relationship with Him, and how to serve others as we were created to do. When we have the Holy Spirit working within us, we carry Him everywhere with us. He will lead us, shape us/refine, correct us when needed, and carry us when we cannot walk on our own. These trials are an extension of His vast love for us. It is amazing that He finds value within us. Do not dread the trial but look it straight in the eye and know God is there and will never leave y you where you are. Trust that, accept the challenge and lesson and give all the glory to Him. I hope this helps you. God bless!