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    Q: #380. Does God test us?

By: Steve Shirley

    A: Yes, the Bible shows us over and over that God does indeed test His children. In the KJV Bible, the words "prove" and "tried / trieth" are used instead of "test," which seem to me to be a little more accurate. The Old Testament actually uses three different Hebrew words: "tsaraph," "bachan," and "nacah." Strong's defines "tsaraph" as "to refine, try, smelt, test." This word is translated in several verses as "refined" (Zech 13:9)(Mal 3:2-3)(Isa 48:10), and I believe it provides a very good picture of God's "testing."

     When a metal is "refined" (i.e. gold or silver), it is placed into a container, and heated to a very high temperature. This causes the impurities to sink to the bottom and the pure metal to rise to the top. When this process is completed, you have a finished product with no impurities. This is a good picture of what God is trying to do in us. Our lives as Christians are filled with a series of refining processes, with God as the refiner. Trials are used to "refine" us. As we are "heated" (going through our trials), we are to turn to the Lord and trust in Him. He will walk with us as we go through each trial. When a trial is finished, our faith becomes stronger as we see how God worked. This is ultimately why God is "refining" us: to "prove" and strengthen our faith.

     It is also important to understand that since God is "omniscient" (all-knowing), He already knows how we will respond to each trial. Therefore, this "proving" of our faith is not for His benefit, but for OURS. It is meant to strengthen and encourage us, and to help us rely more on Him. Another benefit of these "tests" is that they give us "test"imonies. I speak in detail about the importance of testimonies here, but in short, one type of testimony (aside from our testimony of how we were saved) is to tell others how God gave us help, strength, healing, deliverance, etc... in the midst of different trials we faced in the past. This helps fellow Christians to be encouraged in the midst their trials.

     The Bible basically gives us 4 things that God is "proving" in each person:

Our heart (1 Th 2:4)(Deut 8:2)(2 Chr 32:31)(Prov 17:3)(Jer 11:20)(Jer 12:3)(1 Chr 29:17)
Our mind (Jer 17:10)
Our love for Him (Deut 13:3)
Our obedience (Ex 16:4)(Deut 8:2)(Judg 2:22)(Judg 3:4)

    I also found two other reasons why He is "proving" us:

(Deut 8:16) "So that it in the end it might go well for you."

(Ex 20:20)(NASB) "in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin."

     In addition, remember the following principle. EVERYTHING that happens to us is either because God caused it, or God allowed it. There is no other option. In other words, God isn't always behind every test. But, if He isn't, then He allows it to happen. The Bible talks about God allowing Satan (Job 1:12)(Job 2:6)(Mt 4:1-11), and even other people (Deut 13:3)(Judg 2:21-3:1) to test us. However, we can see in Job that God puts limits on how much we can be tested (Job 1:12)(Job 2:6). And, we can be comforted in knowing that God will not allow this testing to go beyond what we can bear (1 Cor 10:13)(2 Pet 2:9).

     The Bible tells us that God does not tempt people (James 1:13). In other words, when God is "testing" or "proving" us, He does not do so in a way that will lead us into sin. When we are "tested" (or tempted) to sin, we can KNOW that it comes from Satan, and his fallen demons. God does allow this, but promises to walk through these "trials" with us, and to provide a way out (1 Cor 10:13).

     Finally, keep in mind that every great man of the Bible was tested. Some were tested many times. Two of the most well known examples of people that God tested are Abraham (Gen 22:1-12)(Heb 11:17-19), and the Israelites (Ex 16:4)(Ex 20:20)(Deut 8:2,16)(Judg 2:22). Many of the prophets of God were tested, which I list here. Paul faced perhaps more trials than any other man, save for Jesus (See: Paul's Trials). As you think about this, keep in mind how powerfully God used each of these men. For example, God used Paul to write more of the New Testament than any other man.

     I love this illustration: Did you know that as drought or storms come, the roots of a tree sink deeper into the ground. Drought and storms are actually good for a tree, because making the roots go deeper results in the tree becoming stronger. This same thing applies in our lives as well. As trials come, our roots go deeper, and our faith become stronger. Therefore, as the Bible says, in the midst of our trials, let us: find joy (James 1:2-4), glory (Rom 5:3-4), be cheerful (Jn 16:33), take pleasure (2 Cor 12:9-10), rejoice (Mt 5:10-12)(Acts 5:41)(1 Pet 1:6-7), be happy (1 Pet 3:14). When we do, we will one day receive the "crown of life" (James 1:12).

(2 Cor 4:16-18) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

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