Tuesday, November 4, 2014

This is Only a Test

The idea of God testing us is not something I've ever spent a lot of thought on, but over the course of the last week or so, it's been a recurring a topic.
I've often heard people say, "God is testing me," and it's referred to in the Bible, even asked for at times:
Psalm 26:2- Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.
Psalm 139:23- Test me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
James 1:12- Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Psalm 66:10- For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.

I've been reading thru the Bible on If:Equip (such a great experience), and a few days ago, I read in Genesis where God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. The title of that story is (at least in my Bible) God Puts Abraham to the Test.

Genesis 22
1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”      2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by is horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” 15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 
Why does God test us? Is it so he can know for sure how we feel about Him? Does He need reassurance that our faith in Him is legit?
Not. Even. A little bit.
God is all-knowing. He knows our hearts, our minds, our faith. He knows exactly where we stand.

In the comment thread on If:Equip that day, someone gave a really great perspective that I hadn't considered before, and she put it beautifully:

"I look at this story and I wonder if it wasn't so much a test for God to see if Abraham would be obedient- God knows all things and knew the extent of Abraham's love for Him without putting him through this- but if it was more for Abraham and Isaac's sake. To experience the provision that follows radical obedience. God showed Himself faithful in that moment of absolute tragic surrender. Abraham surely didn't walk away from this thinking, 'Wow, I am so obedient', but rather, 'The Lord is faithful to provide.' When God calls us to radical obedience, maybe the test isn't so much to see whether or not we will obey, but for God to display His faithful provision in our lives in a way that we walk away confidently knowing 'The Lord will Provide.'"

I've been locked in on this since Thursday. God wants to display His faithful provision. And He is always faithful.
I think this will forever alter my thoughts when I hear, "Why is God testing me," or "Why is is this happening to me," or any other version of that question.
He wants to show us that He's faithful. He wants us to believe what His word tells us:
Hebrews 10:23- Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
2 Thessalonians 3:3- But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

How have you been tested? Can you share something you've walked thru that has strengthened your faith?

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