I vividly remember the sinking feeling I got in my stomach when my high school teacher cleared her throat at the beginning of the class and said, “Please take out a blank sheet of paper for a pop quiz.” That stressful feeling came from the fact that I wasn’t forewarned, therefore I wasn’t prepared. It also came because it was highly likely that I would not get a very good grade. I hated pop quizzes because I never saw them coming and I was uncertain as to whether or not I had what it took to do a good job.
During my 44 years of knowing and serving Christ, I have discovered that God sometimes gives us a pop quiz, also known as a “test.” It is during those periods of testing in our lives that we can feel like God has forgotten us. The tests I have endured, those difficult experiences, revealed my true values. They also demonstrated how committed I was, and my true beliefs were unveiled. Just when I thought I knew what was in my heart, a test came and revealed something totally different, and it wasn’t pretty. If the test never came, I would have never known. I would have continued living with a false understanding of who I was, and what I was made of.
The word “test” is a very important word in the Old Testament. A test was often used to prove or to demonstrate the character and faith of God’s people. That is what Moses seemed to say to Israel in Deuteronomy 8:2, “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”
The depth of our love for God will be measured by our willingness to follow Christ even in difficult and trying circumstances. By the way, a test in the Old Testament was always reserved for the people of faith, never for the ungodly. Even though tests are painful and unwelcome, they are, in fact an act of love. Tests prove our faith and God’s goodness.
Times of testing are not pleasant times, but they are learning times. During our times of testing, our spiritual muscles are stretched, our faith is strengthened, and our character is forged. God’s tests are designed to develop us into men and women of strong spiritual resolve. Let’s face it. Our spiritual roots grow deeper when the strong winds blow and the storms pound. Take away the tests, and we all become spiritual wimps.
Our tests, whether they are physical, financial, emotional, relational or vocational, have a spiritual component. Each test will determine if we trust God. Will we depend on God’s unfailing love, understand his perfect plan, and experience his wonderful goodness? Or will we revert to being a faithless doubter who hides their lamp under a basket so no one can see it (Matthew 5:15)?
To welcome and embrace the test is the only way to pass the test.