Why Do We Have Tests?

TestA friend, Carolyn, wrote this to a group I’m in: “I feel today some of you want to give up….but don’t ever give up…. We are such an instant people we want everything instantly, including me! So often, we believe that if God doesn’t respond to us instantly He has not heard. Take heart: Every prayer, every conversation I’ve ever had with God has been recorded by God in heaven. We will never waste a moment seeking the Lord. Even in seasons of discouragement, God sees, God hears, and God will respond in His time! (Malachi 3:16)”

Wait! Did we read that right? God has recorded every prayer we have lifted up to His throne of grace? Is there a verse to back that up? Yes, there is. Revelation 8:3-4, “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.”

Can you picture it? Every prayer you have ever prayed has been put into a golden censer, not wood, not plastic, not clay, but gold. That’s how precious our prayers are to God.

Henry Blackaby, in his book, Experiencing God, said he had made a determination no matter what his circumstances that he would look at his situation only against the backdrop of the cross. Every encounter God has with us is an expression of his love for us. God uses our present experiences to mold us for future usefulness here on earth and in eternity. I like the idea that everything that happens to us here on earth is preparing us for what He has planned for our eternal destiny. It’s not just for here. There is more to come…and it may be soon. Much of what we endure here is building character that will also be useful in the hereafter. Nothing is wasted in God.

Could it be God allows hand-picked tests specifically for each one of us to give us the opportunity to respond? God is specifically and intentionally interested in our response. Deuteronomy 8:2 confirms this thought, “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

I like the saying: God doesn’t give a 5th grader a 7th grade test. Notice what God’s goal was in testing the Israelites. He was most interested in what was in their hearts and whether they would obey Him. Is it not the same with us? God speaks to us and directs our path as He unfolds our abundant life here and also prepares us for eternity. Our part is to humbly listen and obey. That is the key to real freedom and meaning in life.

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