Testing Times

by APC on July 20, 2017

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:3–7, KJV).

What are Trials?

Trials can be defined in many ways, but it all boils down to 1 point—trials are challenges we face in this life. Paul defines a trial as anything tested, needing to be proved with set criterion, or time of proving our faith. The question that should be answered through our trials is, “Do I really believe God is going to come through in this situation?”

Who’s Responsible for Our Trials?

We deem the responsible party of our trials to be the fault of devil, other people, and circumstances. But, we don’t realize it is God Himself who allows us to be tested (Proverbs 17:3), and He is the One testing us more than these other so-called factors.

Why are We Tested?

So, why does God test us? James tells us trials are to strengthen us and to grow our stability in Christ. Trials will help us develop a greater spiritual walk with God—they aren’t just bad occurrences in life! Trials develop “spiritual endurance,” so at the outcome, we can be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:1–4). We must remember there are benefits we’ll receive out of God trying our faith we won’t get anywhere else in life.

God tests us for many different reasons, several of which are overviewed below.

In Order to Slow Us Down and Keep Us Spiritually Safe

Paul talked about a thorn he had in his flesh (II Corinthians 12:7). It was bad enough he ascribed it to being “hell” or “Satan” manifested in his life. But, the reason it was there was to slow him down a little bit—to act like a governor so-to-speak. The thorn was put there by God to establish boundaries in his life. Boundaries God sets in our lives are only as safe as we allow them to be.

God puts many boundaries or “governors” in our lives. He places a man of God over us to watch out for our souls, and we’re required to submit to our spiritual authorities (I Peter 5:5–6Hebrews 13:17). God tests us to see how we submit and react when we’re told, “No.”

In Order to Increase What We Know About God

Testing is about learning something we don’t already understand. God tests us so we can learn more about Him (Titus 2:11–12). The Holy Ghost (God’s Spirit) desires to reveal deep things to us. We will never fully understand God, but He wants to take us on a journey of discovery in Him and of His Word so we can test it and prove it in our lives. We should always love the instruction the Lord wants to give us, even if those come through the form of trials (Proverbs 12:1). God could always be preparing us for a time in the future when we’ll need to know have the knowledge we only could have gleaned from a present trial.

In Order for Us to Grow Stronger in Our Spiritual Walk

Paul’s thorn in the flesh was something he eventually accepted. He learned a valuable lesson from his trial—it was to strengthen him. Paul noted his strength would be made perfect in weakness; God’s grace alone was sufficient for him (II Corinthians 12:8–10). We must endure trials so we can grow spiritually stronger in Christ. We can’t achieve strength through worship—strength comes through hardship and testing.

The church today is very focused on “pain” instead of the true purpose of our tests. Paul adjured the church to stop complaining about what they were going through. What they were experiencing wasn’t “pain.” And, their pain-focus was causing them to miss the lesson God was trying to teach them (Hebrews 12:1–4).

Sometimes the “pain” we think we feel is the automatic response system God’s placed in our lives to know when to stop. What we’re doing could be hurting us. But, at other times, God is trying to tear us down so that He can build us back up. And, the new development in us will make us better than we were before (Hebrews 12:5–13).

In Order for God’s Glory to be Shown in Our Lives

Some tests and trials we’ll experience in life will be for the sole purpose of giving God glory. In Scripture, when the man born blind was healed, everyone wanted to know who sinned to cause the blindness. Jesus said that no one had sinned, but that “the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3, KJV). We must ask ourselves if we’re willing to go through a trial so God can get the glory from it.

Anything we experience in this life isn’t even compared to the glory of God that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). If we want His glory to come forth, it’s going to carry some weight with it! We must realize trials are only temporary. There is a greater reward on the other end of our trial we can’t even comprehend in this life (II Corinthians 4:17).

In Order to Go

Paul wrote a personal letter to a man named Philemon in Scriptures about his runaway slave, Onesimus. Paul told him in times past Onesimus wasn’t useful to him, but now was changed since his conversion in Jesus Christ (Philemon 1:10–11). If this test had never happened, Onesimus would never be what he was going to be in God, and neither would Philemon.

God is trying us so He can develop us into something to be used in His Kingdom. If He doesn’t test us, we won’t be able to accomplish what He has in store for us to do. When we think about Paul, he wouldn’t be the greatest Apostle ever to walk the earth if he didn’t experience what he did. Testing isn’t easy, but it is a necessary time in everyone’s life.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on July 20, 2017 with Pastor Nave