Wouldn’t it be great, if all the times we were tested in our lives where limited to a certain period, like exams! However, I do think testing can be predicted to some extent. I have found that whenever the Lord has spent time teaching me a concept from His word, through His Spirit, there is always a time or season afterwards where I “sit for the test.” Just like in the world, where you learn “Course 101” and then sit for the exam, I believe that God tests us after a season of learning.
In John 6:1-15 Jesus and his disciples have been ministering alongside Jesus to thousands of people and they withdraw to the mountainside to rest. While they are resting Jesus is watching the people coming towards them, He recognises their needs and He asks Philip “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” John tells us that Jesus already had in mind what he was going to do but had decided to test or prove Philip.
Why did Jesus want to test Philip? Jesus had observed something in the heart of Philip and his other disciples. Even though Philip was being questioned, all of them were audience to the test and examining their own hearts alongside Philip.
So, Philip looks at the problem from a human point of view (like we all do) and when:
- Confronted with a problem he had never encountered before; i.e. how to feed the thousands
- He naturally finds no natural or human solution to the problem is available. They don’t have “eight months” worth of wages!
- He does not consider who is with Him and the role the supernatural could play. (Heb 11:1)
Jesus then goes ahead and feeds all the people and both Philip and the disciples would see that there was room for improvement in their faith. New challenges (especially those bigger than our abilities) will always expose deficiencies in our faith, and expose where our faith needs work.
Contrast Philip to Andrew, who takes a stab at the problem. He looks at what is available (five loaves and two fish) and says; “Here Jesus, what can you do with this?” But he himself does not think it will go far with so many people. Often we limit what God can do in a problem situation because we fail to look at what we have. We fail to look at WHAT we have, WHO is with us and we fail to put our faith in the supernatural POWER of God.
When we allow God to test our hearts, He will expose our faith and its limits. It will expose hidden sin, hidden attitudes, hidden thought patterns, hidden habits, and hidden beliefs. It will show us where our faith needs work!
Scripture tells us that God “will test our hearts” (1 Thes 2:4). It is not “if” it is “when.” My Lord, “disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:5-6) God already knows what He is going to do IN our lives (Jer 29:11), He is more than ABLE to work it out in our lives, but the testing of our hearts is for OUR benefit.
- Questions (I have asked myself or been asked, especially by my children.)
- Problems I have never encountered before, or a task I have never done before.
- An inconvenience or event that pushes me out of my plans for the day.
- Situations I find myself in. Here I have to make a decision about how I am going to behave, believe and do.
- Thought processes that come up over and over again, which I don’t examine.
- Relationship problems or misunderstandings, (the closer the person is to me, the more likely they will be used to test me).
I find that these always reveal to ME what’s in my heart and where MY faith or behaviour comes up short.
I don’t like to be tested. I don’t like the fact that other people are watching as I go through the tests. I even find it hard to accept that God will test me. But changing my perspective and seeing it as the “test to sit” after completing the course, has really helped me. So rather than grumble, I needed to recognise the process, change my attitude and observe what is being revealed to me by the process.
The Greek word for ‘proving’ something is “peiradzo” which means to put to test, to prove it, to expose the truth about something, the quality of a substance. Like putting metal in a fire and all the impurities come to the surface.
That does not sound like a pleasant process! But Hebrews 12:11 reminds that there is an end result; “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness (right living) and peace (with God and others) for those who have been trained by it.”
Fire, testing, questions, problems = Testing = Greater righteousness and peace!
But what I particular like about Hebrews 12:11 is that word “trained” – testing is part of our training and training implies a future that is being worked towards. My character, my person, my heart is being developed because God has prepared work for me to do. (Eph 2:10) God is not finished with me yet (Phil 1:6) and is constantly working on me, training me, then testing me, to help me grow in my relationship with Him and preparing me for the future.
What test are you sitting for?
- Is there an area of your life where: during your quiet times; conversations with people and your activities or experiences; God has been teaching you about a certain topic? Has your heart grasped the truth yet?
- Perhaps you are sitting for a test now, which is showing you the truth of what is in your heart in ways you have never seen before?
- To what extent do you embrace the process of being tested by God?
Lord, help me to be willing to sit the test that you prepare for me. I know now that the purpose of the test is to reveal to me what I do understand, as well as what I still need to understand. Your goal is for me to totally grasp the treasures of Your Word and a life in relationship with You and I thank you for not being finished with my life, yet. Thank you that I will harvest greater righteousness as Your Word promises.
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