I’m having to learn a rather painful lesson right now. And, just for the record, it sucks. I’ve heard people say before that they don’t believe God tests his people. I completely disagree. Did not God test Job? Did He not test Moses? Gideon? Jonathan…even Jesus was tested. I think perhaps we need to redefine what we mean by testing and the idea of God testing us. I know some are going to push back on me a bit here and that’s cool. This is, after all, my opinion.
Perhaps I should rephrase what I mean here; God is allowing me to go through some things so that I may be tested. See, I believe that He comes to us, takes us through things so that we may grow. We need to go through fire to grow closer to Him, to realize our need for Him. We need delayed gratification on things so that we may learn dependence. Our problem is that we seem to think this is all about us. How far from the truth could we possibly be? We are so ego-centric!
James 1:2-8. Check this out. “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” (The Message)
The first time I read this I was like ‘what?!’. In the New Living Translation, verse 2 says when troubles come our way to “consider it an opportunity for great joy.” The more I thought about this and talked to God about it, the more I realized this is about attitude. It takes a complete shift in our thinking to find joy in troubles, opportunities in suffering. I love the way The Message puts it by saying “your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” Maybe that’s the real problem. Our true character gets forced into the open when we go through problems. Then, the real you comes out.
I was in the grocery store this weekend. As I was walking down an aisle, I saw a mother and her children coming toward me. One of the children was clearly unhappy about something. Apparently, from hearing what he was whining about, he wasn’t getting what he wanted. I just sort of stood there and watched while this child threw himself on the floor and pitched a fit, thrashing around and screaming because he wasn’t getting his way. Needless to say, it was obviously embarrassing for the mother and I wanted to wring the little brat’s neck.
How often do we do the same thing with God? Seriously. We whine and gripe and moan because something doesn’t go our way. We find ourselves stuck in a situation that is, more likely than not, of our own making. Then we ask for Him to save us from it. And He doesn’t. Or He says ‘wait awhile’ or tells us something else we don’t want to hear. So, what do we do? We throw ourselves on the floor and pitch a fit. Are we to take only the “good” from Him and not the “bad” also? Why can’t we just accept the fact that we are being shaped, molded? Why can’t we just allow the situation to play itself out so that our character is molded to be more like Him?
I am chief among those like this. I have found myself in a work situation that I was unhappy about for some time now. I begged God to get me out of this situation, to change my surroundings. He told me to wait. I pitched several fits. Lucky for me, He is patient.
Here’s the point, I think, of all this blabbering I’m doing. He kept me here to shape my character. He kept me here to show me how much I need Him because, without Him, I cannot do this. I am learning, albeit very slowly, that I need Him every day, in every situation. There are no compartments to life. There is only life with Him or without Him. This I can promise you: if we will hold on to Him, consult Him and listen to Him in every situation of life, He will show you what must be done. It might not be on your timetable or the way you think it should be handled. Then again, who are we to question the Creator of all?