Our time on Earth is a series of trials and tests, but God doesn’t test us when we’re ready and waiting for it. He tests us when we’re least ready, when we’re tired and running late and having what amounts to a spiritual bad hair day. That’s when he tests us, when we’re feeling our worst, because how we respond when we’re feeling our worst is the most accurate measure of where we are spiritually.
If God gave us a heads-up that we were going to be tested on a particular day at a particular time, we’d clear our schedules and spend the preceding days in prayer, so that when our testing time came, we’d be centered, grounded and focused. We’d ace that sucker! But that’s not who we are. That’s make-believe us. That’s lab-condition us, not field-condition us. God needs to know how we’ll perform in the field under real conditions. So he springs tests on us when we least expect them.
God needs to test us when we’re at our worst so that he can see what he has to work with. He also needs to see (and to show us) what we need to work on. After he’s tested us, he lets us know how we’ve done.
It’s best to take God’s progress report humbly and not get defensive or try to make excuses for poor performance. Best just to acknowledge that you still need to work on this or that or the other thing, and resolve to do better next time. That’s all you can really do and that’s all God expects you to do – resolve to do better next time. No point in being belligerent or self-denigrating. No point in feeling sorry for yourself. If you mess up, own it, make amends, and move on.
Imagine if babies, when they’re learning to walk, got angry at the person trying to help them. Imagine if they refused to stand up for the rest of their life if it meant they were going to fall down again. They’d never learn to walk, let alone run, skip, hop, dance, skate, etc. To a baby, falling down is part of walking. It goes something this: wobbly step, wobbly step, wobbly step, plonk on your bum, look surprised, struggle to your feet, and then wobbly step, wobbly step, wobbly step, plonk on your bum, etc. To a baby, that’s walking.
Notice, too, how most babies try to skip the learn-to-walk phase and go straight to running, which of course only makes them fall down all the more. I think you know what I’m getting at here. Spiritually, we often take on more than we can handle, and then we get knocked back. It’s a humbling experience, to get knocked back spiritually, and most of us don’t do humble well. Humility is an acquired trait. We’re not born with it. We’re not even born-again with it. We have to learn to be humble, which is also one of our earthly tests.
Have you been tested lately? If so, how did you do? Did you learn something about yourself that you didn’t know before? And did God highlight something for you that you need to work on?
We shouldn’t dread God’s tests and trials or try to avoid them. They’re for our benefit. We need to know where we stand spiritually and what we need to work on. And God also needs to know the same thing so he can help us.
So the next time you’re having a spiritual bad hair day and God springs a test on you, remind yourself that it is a test and give it all you’ve got.