Thankful for the Tests

I’m not good at writing clever headlines but I couldn’t get this one out of my head. When most people think of a test, they perceive it as a negative event that puts you at a disadvantage. You see, a test is meant to assess your knowledge and reveal your lack of knowledge on that subject area. No one ever wants to take a test. A test is given when it is required.

What if you found out that your heart surgeon flunked all of her medical exams? Or the investor that handles your money, what if you discovered he had not passed his certification exams? What if you found out that the engineer that built the highways in your city had flunked college? Your heart, your money and the road you drive on depend on the expertise and integrity of individuals.

A test reveals the integrity of your information, your experience and your knowledge. In the same way, the tests of God show weakness, strengths and the need for a change. I have been severely tested this past year in areas that I didn’t know were weak. I had lost hope that I could ever be useful to God. I despaired that my weakness disqualified me from service to Him.

That severe test put in a cry in my heart for Him that only He could answer. I depended on Him for my very life and cried out for Him to change me. Change me so I could be useful to Him. Change me so I can be the wife my husband needs. Change me so I could be the mother my children need. Change me or I will not survive the test.

Then suddenly, I saw flickers of change in my responses. The events that would bring hopelessness, washed over me. I responded with peace. I responded with joy. I responded with love. For the first time I realized the purpose of the test was to trust Him to change me. Trust Him to make me into someone He needs me to be.

So on November 23, 2012, I thank Him for the test. The test of my heart. The test of my character. The test of the dark night of the soul. I’ve watched leaders I look up to become casualties of the tests of God. They once preached and now they are in prison. They once pastored and now they are selling cars.

I know other leaders such as Pastor Steve and Kathy Gray, Pastor Tom and Diana Trout, Pastor Mark and Mary Pedersen who have stood through their own tests. They stood  with me and spoke into my life during this time of severe testing. I didn’t spend time with them in a counseling session and they didn’t even know  what I was going through. But I listened to them and continued to do the things that I knew were right even though I didn’t necessarily feel like it.

I continued attending church, giving in the offering and serving with everything I had. I heard messages that convicted me and brought His presence close to me. I received prayer and help that I needed desperately. I didn’t have to broadcast my trouble. God knew what was happening inside of me. He was changing me through the messages, the prayer and His word.

Just like you need to know that your heart surgeon passed their exams, or the person handling your money has the required certifications, God needs to know that you can be trusted. We want Him to dump all of His blessings on us with no questioning, no commitment or loyalty required on our part. This is the God of the universe, a king who gave His only son, the best that He had to give.

Yet we want the benefits of His presence and His blessing, without the sacrifice, the commitment and loyalty of a relationship. He needs to know you can be trusted. He needs to know where’s your heart. What moves you? What motivates you? What triggers you?

The test of life can reveal this and it usually isn’t pretty. I’ve seen a lot of people escape the test by quitting going to church and shutting out the only people that can really help them. They assume that the test is the verdict instead of God rescuing them.

I know there other tests ahead in my life. But I thank God for the test and the benefits that come from passing those tests. Now I have in front of me opportunities I once only dreamed about. Doors have opened that only He could open because finally I can be trusted.

If you’re in the heat of a test right now, cry out to Him, listen to Him and your leaders. Trust Him and the people in your life who have been proven by Him such as your pastors. Listen to your pastors. Listen to your leaders. Stay the course and one day you’ll wake up and even though the circumstances haven’t changed, you are a changed person.

You’ll pass the test and will be blown away by the doors only He can open. He will surprise you with opportunities that He will bring across your way, because you have passed the test.

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