“You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. 11 You captured us in your net
and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. 12 Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.”
One of the first songs I ever wrote was on the passage above. True story. I thought I knew troubles then. Oh boy, was I wrong. If I had known then what I would walk through, well, I don’t really know what effect it would have had on me, but one thing is for sure—we would all rather avoid hardship or tests if at all possible. We’d rather just get to the good stuff, you know, the place of abundance, but don’t feel we should have to suffer to get there.
We might think that going through times of testing is pointless or that God would find a “better way” that did not involve suffering. This isn’t surprising. Our flesh is irritated, bugged even, by the thought that we need work on our character, at all. We’re amazing, right?
But there is a purpose in tests that goes so far beyond just mere comfort. Perhaps if we seek to understand why we don’t like tests in the first place, we might not be so intimidated by them. Let’s debunk some of the myths of tests, shall we? Maybe our testing would not last so long if our response to tests was different, too.
Myth #1: If we fail a test, we are a failure.
Nope, nada. Fearing failure just keeps us bound and will not speed up the testing, folks. Failure instructs us—it does not condemn us. We might still have some rough edges and things we need to learn, which, by the way, is an incredible gift. It just might hurt sometimes. But when we trust the hand of our beloved Potter, we aren’t afraid of failure because He never gives up on us.
Myth #2: If God allows a time of testing in our lives, He has forgotten us, He doesn’t love us or He isn’t good.
Never. Scripture says God could never forget us (Isaiah 49:15). He never could do anything evil and He is good all the time (Psalm 92:15). So how do we process times of testing then? When we see tests in this life as a by-product of living in a fallen world, we don’t blame God but thank our Sovereign God who is with us and who will use all things for our good and His glory.
Myth #3: When we get older, we should not have to go through tests anymore.
Nope. We might get more stubborn, actually, as we age, and need to humble ourselves.
Myth #4: I’m not strong enough or smart enough for the time of testing.
Nice try. in our weaknesses, we are strong. Don’t give up without trying. Christ is our strength. Refer back to myth #1. Tests are not always pass or fail. God’s purposes are so much higher than our performance. There is a purpose much deeper than just surviving, too.
So, maybe this rah rah blog post does not change your opinion of or attitude toward tests. I get it. We don’t have to appreciate the tests, but maybe if we saw the benefits of tests, we could submit ourselves to the process and trust the hand of God in it.
Benefit #1: God allows times of testing for our good—to bring us to a place of abundance.
It might be a rocky adventure to get there, but so often we hold coal in our hands and God wants to give us something that is so much greater. If we will release our clutch on that which is not ours in the first place, God can fill our hands again.
Benefit #2: Times of testing grow us spiritually, in character and perseverance (1 Peter 1:7).
When we wonder why, we demonstrate that we are in desperate need of the test we are in.
Benefit #3: Times of testing grow our relationship with Christ.
As we seek God in the midst of our struggles in this life, we grow closer to Him and become more like Him! This is what relationship is – not a dry religion out of boring duty, but a vibrant faith that trusts our Creator at all times.
Benefit #4: Times of testing help us to be compassionate toward others so we can comfort as we have been comforted.
I used to quote the Scripture—you know the one—2 Corinthians 1:3-5, thinking I understood it:
“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
But it was not until I suffered greatly that my eyes were opened to the suffering all around me to a greater depth. And we who have suffered in this life and run to Christ in the midst have experienced the greatest joy in times of affliction so that we are able to help others find peace and joy in the midst of their times of testing, too.
I’ve gotten the ball rolling. What are some myths you have believed about tests? What are some benefits you have reaped from tests in your life? I’d love to hear about it. God is good and no testing we endure in this life will be wasted. Will you go deeper with me?