Spiritual Testing

Dear Reader,

I think that when we hear testing, we think of a situation in which the test-taker is called upon to prove what they already know or can do. And so when we hear that God tests His people, we get a  little defensive. Doesn’t God already know our hearts? Why must He test them? It seems a little malicious of Him to put us through hard times for such a purpose. But when the Bible speaks of testing, I think it has a very different idea of what is meant. Testing in the Bible does not simply convey knowledge of a situation which already exists. It changes the test-taker. It is like the testing of gold in the fire. Yes, it will show us if there is true gold there. But it also changes the lump being tested. It burns away the non-gold material. It purifies the test subject. So God does not test us just so He will know the state of our hearts, which indeed He already knows.  He tests us to change us. He tests us to make us more holy which really is His goal for all of us.

I think of Job in this context. Satan’s charge was that there was no gold there, that if he had to endure trials that Job would fall away. God allows the test but I don’t think it is just because He wants to know Job’s heart. Or because He thinks he has something to prove to Satan. Job is not being punished for any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, he comes out on the other side of all his trials with a new understanding of his God and his position before God. Job is changed by the experience.

Since none of us will achieve perfect holiness in this life, I think we can all expect that at some point God will test us. And when we are in the midst of suffering it is important to remember that this is often when God is most working in our lives. Cold, solid metal cannot be shaped. But when it is thrown in the fire, it can be molded. So too God uses our trials more than our times of ease to shape and form us into His image. Now it can be tempting to think when in the midst of a trial, “God is trying to teach me something. If I just learn what that is, then He will end this trial and I can be free of it.” It may work this way sometimes. But for the most part I think God is more concerned with who we are than with our learning specific facts. What we come out with on the other side, as in Job’s case, may be hard to sum up easily. It is not often just a new fact like “God is patient” or “God wants me to give up such ans such a habit.” More often it is something harder to put one’s finger on. It is a new understanding on things we already knew. It is new light on our own standing before our holy Creator. If you think of what Job learned through his trials, I think it is hard to sum up. Rather he got a new perspective on his Creator.



One response to this post.

  1. […] my post on spiritual testing got me thinking about tests in general and what the point of them is (edited to say, also check out […]


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