The Tester

FaithSo does God ever test us? We talk about the devil tempting us, but does God ever test us, and how do we know the difference?

Soon after I came to BRC I preached a sermon where I suggested that the same event can be a trial, a temptation and a test. It’s like looking at the same event from three different angles. From our end we mainly experience the situation as something difficult to deal with, i.e. a trial. But with that trial often comes a temptation – for example, the devil tempts us to doubt, to be afraid, to give up or to give in. And at the very same time God may be testing us – especially our faith, faithfulness and obedience, which are the fundamental building blocks of a life with God.

Today’s Old Testament reading (Exodus 15:22-16:10) talks a couple of times about God testing the Israelites. They got thirsty, and then later they got hungry. God was supposed to be their provider (i.e. “Give us today our daily bread”). God seemed to purposely drag his feet in order to test them. Both times they murmured, grumbled, complained. Each time he met their needs anyway.

So why did God test them? At one point God says, “For I, the Lord, am your healer.” This is what I’m wondering this morning: I’m wondering if the first thing God wants to heal is our faith. Faith is as critical for our spiritual lives as food and drink are for our physical lives. So God “tests” our faith to see what condition it’s in, as well as to strengthen and heal it.

This coming Sunday we’ll look at what Peter has to say about faith (1 Peter 2:1-10 for those who want to dig in ahead of time). He compares its value to gold. Both gold and faith have to be refined by fire. But gold (and all that it buys) perishes, while faith opens up a whole new world now and prepares us for the world to come.

How is your faith being tested right now? Could God be testing your faith in order to heal it?

3 thoughts on “The Tester

  1. I had asked myself the same question while I was reading the daily lectionary last night. People often think of temptations as something pleasurable in disguise, i.e. a poor person may be tempted to steal.
    Temptations are more abstract than that. Job is a good example of the devil tempting him to curse God while bad things are happening.
    I think that we should always examine our options fully, and realize that life is to short to fall under the temptations of sin. If we have patience, our faith will provide us an everlasting reward in heaven.

  2. I think it’s interesting that Helen brings up the word “patience.” I wonder how often we fail tests or fall into temptation or get discouraged and complain because we don’t know how to wait.

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