“God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31).
There are times of testing that God sometimes initiates and sometimes allows to happen to us for our good. For instance, Job's test was instigated by Satan, but God allowed it for His glory and purposes (Job 1:9-12). Then there was the time when Abraham was tested to see how far he had come in his walk with God:
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied (Genesis 22:1).
God knows our hearts, but our problem is that we don't often see ourselves as God sees us—we don’t know what's in our hearts. The Lord says that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). The tests of God are designed for us to see ourselves, how far short we fall from His standard—Jesus Christ. I see at least two purposes that God has in testing our faith. If you are a Christian, God is at work in you to make you more like Jesus in your inner man, your character. If you are not yet a Christian, you may be in a trial or a test designed or allowed by the Creator of the universe to bring you to a place where you may realize your need for Him. God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (James 4:6). A man or woman might seek fulfillment and peace with God by His accomplishments or goodness, but he or she will find that inner peace will elude him. But if a man recognizes his spiritual bankruptcy or moral failure before a holy God, he will find favor with God:
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17).
The above Scripture was written for all men and women everywhere. When you come to God with a heart of need—a broken, contrite (affected by guilt and remorse) heart, the test or trial you have gone through has done its work. It could be that what you have gone through has been very dark, but God is working in you for an eternal benefit. Life is not just about living in this world. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. There will come a time when you will see the eternal benefit of what you have gone through, as long as you repent, believe the gospel, and put your faith and trust in Christ.
Have you ever read the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis? (Chapters 37-50). This young man of around seventeen was thrust into a test of which he was unaware. Through the difficulties he went through, gifts arose in him that God used for his personal growth and the salvation of his family during the famine that came on the land. At the testing time, the famine was still many years ahead of him. God worked in the heart of the young Joseph, training and building his character so that he might endure political office alongside Pharaoh. God allowed the test so that Joseph would bring deliverance to all his family when the time of famine came. How does this relate to you and me? Like Joseph, you may be in a test and trial that will prepare you to be a blessing to those around you.
God shapes and transforms our character in a test. The dark time of testing and trial was training him for his promotion. If we come through the test with our character intact, God can trust us with more responsibility. When you pass the character test, God knows that you will not compromise your faith in Him and can be used to a greater degree. Are you going through a trial at the moment? Is it a test of the Lord? If it is, don’t compromise! Hang on to Christ amid the darkness—light will come, and you will hear Him one day say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” That means everything to the child of God. Keith Thomas
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