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I’ve often been asked, “Why does God test us? Doesn’t God know everything already? If so, why would He need to test us?”
When God tests us it is not for the purposes of his own knowledge but for our knowledge and the knowledge of the one whom the Bible refers to as “the Accuser of the brethren.” In the book of Job Satan accused Job of only serving God because God allowed him to prosper. God removed the hedge of protection He had put around Job to prove his accuser wrong. After the test, not only did Satan know that Job’s faith was grounded in more than God’s blessing, Job knew it also.
Consider that one of the synonyms for “to test” is “to prove.” God doesn’t test us to see if we will fail. He tests us when He knows that we can succeed; He tests us in order to prove us. Imagine that you’ve built a table but your friend casts doubt on the sturdiness of the table. To prove it to your friend, you sit on top of it, demonstrating that it can hold your weight. You are not testing the table because you have a question about its sturdiness; rather, you are testing it to prove its sturdiness to the doubter.
Still, sometimes it is hard to see where the kindness of God fits into his testing. I believe the key to this is understanding that any time God tests us, He is issuing an invitation for us to test Him – to prove Him!
When Paul and his companions were tested in Asia, Paul wrote: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:8b-10).
In other words, they came to a test, felt that their strength would fail, and were compelled to rely upon God. And God proved Himself equal to their need.
The words of the familiar hymn “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” were written by a woman named Louisa Stead. Stead and her four-year old daughter lost their husband and father when he drowned off Long Island trying to rescue a little boy. Years after this severe trial, Louisa Stead recognized that God was the one who had repeatedly passed the test by being faithful to her; she was able to write, “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him/ How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er.”
If, when we are tested, we respond by testing and proving the faithfulness of God, taking Him at his word, we will be able to say confidently with Job, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
I am sure that if you are anything like myself (which I pray you are not) that you struggle with doubt from time to time. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1 that “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” In other words faith would not be faith if you could prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, but then again for you personally God may give you an experience that enables your faith to be unshakable. The problem is that we base much of what we believe on our five senses, and yet with God we cannot, per se, hear Him, touch Him, see Him, etc. Faith, for the most part, moves us out of our sensory world to the Spiritual realm where Spirit (God) touches spirit (us). That being said, it is difficult to define faith and that is where our testimony comes in.
God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, his character, the truthfulness of his word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt, will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth, will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith.
It is impossible for finite minds fully to comprehend the character or the works of the Infinite One.
Ellen is quick to dive into the importance of scripture, but again it is there that confusion can arise as well:
There are in the Bible many things which they cannot explain, or even understand, and Satan employs these to shake their faith in the Scriptures as a revelation from God.
Keeping in mind that in an early chapter A Knowledge of God, Ellen stated that “The Bible was not written for the scholar alone; on the contrary it was designed for the common people.” While I believe that is true, there are things in the Bible that are not so easy to understand. She continues:
If it (the Bible) contained no account of God but that which we could easily comprehend; if his greatness and majesty could be grasped by finite minds, then the Bible would not bear the unmistakable credentials of divine authority. The very grandeur and mystery of the themes presented, should inspire faith in it as the word of God.
On the next page, she adds:
To acknowledge that we cannot fully comprehend the great truths of the Bible is only to admit that the finite mind is inadequate to grasp the infinite; that man, with his limited, human knowledge, cannot understand the purposes of Omniscience.
Again, spiritual things are spiritually discerned (I Corinthians 2:14). In order for us to have a chance at understanding the deeper teachings in the Bible, we must have the Spirit guiding us into truth!
While there were a lot of great points in this chapter, I will close with this:
There is an evidence that is open to all,–the most highly educated, and the most illiterate,–the evidence of experience. God invites us to prove for ourselves the reality of his word, the truth of his promises. He bids us “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Instead of depending upon the word of another, we are to taste for ourselves.
I absolutely love this statement. If you’ve ever heard me share my testimony, you’ve probably heard me make the comment that, “If you don’t have faith, you need to go get some.” You may also recall hearing me comment that I am sick and tired of hearing people say, “I’ve been a Christian all my life and…” or “I’m a 29th generation Seventh-day Adventist…” Are you serious? Have you been a faithful Christian all your life? What does that mean exactly? According to Scripture the only person who has followed God their entire life is Jesus. What’s lacking for you, if you are struggling with doubt, may be experience. Have you experienced the life changing grace and power of God in your life? Have you come to the place where you recognize your brokenness and need of a Savior? Until that point of realization, Jesus, the Bible, church, etc. will have little to no value to you.
If you haven’t had an experience with Jesus to the point where you know that He is real, ask Him for one. Then watch out!
Blessings and courage!