We take SAT’s,  ACT’s, LSAT’s, MCAT’s. Throughout your academic life you and your kids will be tested in math, geography, spelling, English, reading and every other thing under sun. Why? Why do we get tested on these subjects, for the teachers benefit or ours? It is both actually, the teacher needs to understand if the student is understanding the lesson but it is mostly about whether the student is qualified to go to the next lesson, level, position whatever is next

Generally, as a Pastor I don’t ask questions when we are going over scripture because I need to know the answer, I ask, because I want to know If you know the answer.

In both the Old and New Testaments, the Lord ordained testing for his people. God doesn’t do it to beat us up or knock us down instead to help us see who we are and who he is in us. We can be at peace always knowing God is in control of the testing itself.

But doesn’t the Bible say the Lord will never test us? NO! James 1:13 is the scripture often misunderstood regarding God’s testing us

And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.

I was raised with the idea that God never tests us but if you have that understanding then every time you go through some difficulty you think that God is being mean allowing some battle or struggle to come our way. It makes it seem as if God doesn’t really care and also like he is not in control, but he is.

God will never test or tempt us to do wrong. God does not tempt people our own flesh does that, or the enemy does that! However, God will test us to prove our character so we understand who we are and who he is….you have heard me share this scripture numerous times as well

Romans 5:3-5 (Amplified version)

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; 4 and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. 5 Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The Message is a great read on this as well

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

God’s allowing the tests in our lives is because he loves us and wants to pour out more than we can handle to bless us….let’s take a quick look at what I mean

Testing to figure out the problem.

Generally speaking, if you have a problem that doesn’t quickly go away, you go to a physician, chiropractor, dentist, someone who specializes in the problem you are facing to allow them to hopefully have them diagnose your problem. If they are good, they will diagnose it quickly and the results will be better health and healing in whatever way you need it, freedom from pain and suffering that is the purpose of this kind of testing. 

God has a similar plan for us spiritually. We may be in pain we may be missing out on the successes; others are achieving that are also meant for us but the problem we are having is stopping us from accomplishing what he has for us. 

Deuteronomy 8:2

Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.

Can you imagine knowing there is a place of blessing waiting for you. A place perfectly designed for you and your family but because of the unbelief, whining, complaining, gossip, backbiting, pride, arrogance and backbiting of others you had to wait to go there. The second generation of Israelites had to wait, but in their waiting, they too were tested to see if they would make the same failures their parents did.

Sometimes God walks us through things so that we can see what is going on in our hearts. It is not to hurt us but so we can understand the traps that may limit what God wants to do in our lives so allow Him to reveal the stuff so that rather than being limited we can be unlimited in what God wants to do in and through us!

Testing that qualifies us

Sometimes, perhaps even many times we don’t have a clue as to what we can do, what we are capable of doing. Remember this scripture Psalm 105: 17 – 22

Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—

Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

18 They bruised his feet with fetters

and placed his neck in an iron collar.

19 Until the time came to fulfill his dreams,

the LORD tested Joseph’s character.

20 Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free;

the ruler of the nation opened his prison door.

21 Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household;

he became ruler over all the king’s possessions.

22 He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased

and teach the king’s advisers.

This shepherd boy from Canaan was stolen from his home, sold into slavery, thrown into prison…The psalmist writes this was all for the testing of his character. Joseph didn’t really know who he was!

How do we see God? If we see him as this mean entity that does not love us with an everlasting love it is easy to think of this as something horrible.

Joseph did not really know who he was, he could have stayed in Canaan and continually fought with his brothers and when his father died, Jacob could have left Joseph everything which would have caused war with his brothers, as well as a deep hatred and resentment that would have impacted the future of the world.

Joseph had some learning to do, he had to learn how much God had invested in him he had to know who he really was. 

With each challenge we face, each test we endure we learn more about who we are, we learn more about what really are our gifts, our call. We can decide the test is too hard and God will allow us to stay where we are but we will never see the fullness of his plan and purpose for our lives.

God’s testing often qualifies us for the job he has called us to do, the people we will have to work with the skill sets we need to see that we really have and also the limits that we have placed on ourselves that the Lord never set for us but we did.

God’s testing breaks off those limitation and allows us to see ourselves through the Lord’s eyes! We then can see what our true potential actually is!

Tests to learn by… that teach

You have heard me say everyone needs three types of people in their lives, Paul who is a mentor, a Barnabas who is an encourager and a Timothy who is a disciple. When need the disciple in our lives because it shows us that we have learned our lesson well and are able to teach what we have learned

Matthew 8:23-27

Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”

Often our testing will come in areas with which we have a handle or are very familiar. These are areas that we feel we have control over. The athlete who has a heart attack, the person who planned their financial future meticulously and things go south. At least four of these guys were fisherman, familiar with the sea and all it could do….they may have been able to trust him to open the blind eyes, cure the leprous, feed the masses but when it came to an area that they controlled, they felt comfortable, they needed schooled in their faith or lack of it. 

This battle was very real, they understood what this weather meant

They had trusted Jesus for so many other things but He needed to show them they needed to trust for what was close to home

The things we are familiar with we are used to handling ourselves but God will allow us to go through things we think we can handle so we will learn to allow God to do His best not limiting to our best.

God always wants the best for us and if we are constantly relying on our best we will never have His best….many people go through life settling for their best when God wants us free, victorious, never worrying or fearful in our life attitudes but always expecting His best.

Not every test we face is designed with the same purpose in mind however, every test you will face eventually will show you how much God loves you and what a gift you are to this broken world. James puts it this way James 1: 2-4 (Amplified version)

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. 3 Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.

I understand not everyone is going through a test right now however we must be tested in order to grow. Whatever you are going through right now is only a test of your character not to hurt you, frustrate you or to get you to give up. The Lord wants you to see and understand who you really are and who He really is to you. Some tests are major other minor but they are all for our good to give us a hope and a future.

Embrace the testing allow the Lord to show you things about yourself you never knew existed and allow him to get you to the next level!  We can’t get to the perfect place for us that we want to be where we are completely content without walking through and passing the tests!

If we view life as unfair and unjust and we blame God for it we will never move forward to be who God has called us to be and our world will be hurt. If we understand that God truly knows who we are and that he works to place us in situations that enable us to begin to see our potential, who we really are, and who He is so we can fulfill our full potential and have a life of love, joy and peace. We must understand one of God’s ways of doing this is through testing. Just pass the test and you will begin to see the amazing things God has for you!