Wouldn’t it be great if the Lord loudly announced that He is about to test us? THIS IS A TEST! THIS IS ONLY A TEST! If He just held to the Emergency Broadcast System’s standard of alerting us with a loud, high-pitched obnoxious tone, we would have half a chance to ready ourselves and do well or at least sort of well.
Tests come at us so quickly and unexpectedly. Just when we’re thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought or that everything is hunky-dory in our lives, WHAM--a colossal test of character jumps onto our path, and there goes our testimony of being the stable, mature, Christ-like person we thought we were.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that your faith-life is forced into the open under pressure 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. 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 when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought (James 1:2-6 MSG). Another version says, count it all joy when you encounter various trials.
That passage of scripture is a bit unsettling unless you’re Jesus. Joy? A sheer gift? The New Living Translation brings more definition by saying that when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy, for you know that your endurance has a chance to grow when your faith is tested. At the heart of every test the Lord allows in our lives, is a litmus test strip measuring endurance and character.
Remember that the Lord never tempts us, but He certainly matures us through testing and problems. Romans 5:3-4 (NLT) explains that we can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
Endurance and character carry us through to the end of the race when we finally finish our course and accomplish our purpose on earth. Paul the Apostle said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” His tests were far more difficult than most, but he endured them, knowing that “now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return.” That was wonderful for Paul, but what about us? He says, “and the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NLT).
Do you eagerly look forward to Christ’s appearance? If so, Father God has an effective plan to make your journey with Christ successful. Understand that your journey is unique, just as you are. Your character and endurance tests are different from your spouse’s or your friend’s. If, for example, the Lord is developing a cool, even-tempered, peaceful spirit in you, people or things will likely, without announcement or warning, upset you. WHAM! Right in front of you, there it is—spilled milk, a wrecked car, harsh words hurled at you, an undeserved bad grade, sudden illness, job termination, etc.
The tests and challenges come at you from all sides, James said, so get ready. If you’re serious about finishing your race, claiming your crown, and hearing the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21), you will be tested. Ask the Lord for grace to endure the tests and for wisdom to know how to respond as Jesus would. Ask Him to help you recognize a test. Embrace upsets in life as the Lord saying, “THIS IS A TEST! THIS IS ONLY A TEST!”.
During difficult times of testing, follow James’ advice: 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 when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
© 2022, Chris Werre