As Christians, we often undergo trials and tests. Today I’d like to give an overview of Trials and Testing throughout the Bible.
These tests call us to humble ourselves before God and are meant to grow us. But there’s a problem: We (me too!) often switch it around and test God.
Early in Scripture we learn about a huge test failure on a test: The Fall. Adam and Eve failed the test big time. See Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-6, 3:22-24 to review what happened. The bottom line: Adam and Eve thought they were smarter than God.
Centuries later, after escaping from Egypt, Israel went into the wilderness —- and failed the test. A typical example of this failure is Exodus 17:7: And he [Moses] called the name of the place Massah[testing]and Meribah [quarreling], because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” To complain against God is to test him and to look down on him. We hold God in contempt.
Jesus began his ministry in a place familiar to the Israelites: in the wilderness. Good news for us: Unlike the Israelites he passed his wilderness test! See Matthew 3:16-4:2 and 4:5-7 for how Jesus had victory in this.
The fourth test is the one faced by us Christians. In James 1:2-4 we learn: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. “And James 5:19-20 tells us even more about this.
Through trials and testing, what is our goal? James is confident that when we have trials, and as we seek prayer and encouragement from the body of Christ, we will grow to be able to pass these tests. We can then share in Paul’s joyful declaration in Ephesians 3:20-21:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Here are some questions to help you work through the implications of today’s teaching:
- When are you most likely to think that you are smarter than God?
- When are you most likely to complain against God?
- When are you most likely to fail the test? (i.e. hungry, not enough sleep, too busy to study scripture, etc.)
- How do you feel and react when you have failed the test? Not just how you are supposed to react, but how you actually react?
- What should happen when we fail a trial or test? See 1 John 2:1-2
- Does a trial test our ability to do it OR does it test our faith in what the blood of Christ accomplished?
- In what specific area of testing would you like prayer for growth?
My idea for writing this post was inspired by Ed Welch’s teaching in the Human Personality Online Course at CCEF.
I profited from and recommend taking the CCEF online courses. Your growth in Christ and the ability to minister to others will make it well worth the effort.