Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Test

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!"
"Here I am," he replied.

I've been mulling over this testing thing for a while; who knows why. When I think of a "test", I think of a teacher giving a student a test to see if they've learned what they were supposed to learn. Or maybe a parent might test a child to see if they're mature enough to earn some sort of privilege or new responsibility. And that's the way I've always viewed God's tests. It just doesn't seem fair sometimes, like life isn't hard enough already without all these "tests"!

So I began thinking about it. Why in the world would God need to test us? After all, God is omniscient, all-knowing. He knows the past, present and future. He knows every thought I make before I make it and every breath I take before I breathe it. He knows exactly how I will respond to every situation of every moment in my life. What's the point of the test? That's where I've been for the past couple of weeks while I turned this over in my mind.

And finally, I had the biblical "duh!" moment. Did everyone know this except me? (I have lots of moments like this.) Anyway, here's my first conclusion: the testing isn't for God; it's for us.

God knew exactly how Abraham would respond when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac. But I wonder if Abraham knew. God's request was absolutely unthinkable. I bet if someone just walked up to Abraham one day and asked him if he could slice open his son's throat and offer him on an altar of fire, Abraham would have said, "You're out of your mind!!" I bet Abraham didn't think he had it in him- "God, I'm willing to do all these things for you... but not this!" And then God asked- for that. That one thing that Abraham held most dear to his heart. Could he give it up?

He did. He did the thing he didn't know he could do. And Abraham not only pleased God through this demonstration of faith, Abraham's own faith must have been increased dramatically. He had found God to be absolutely faithful, naming that place God-Yireh (God-Sees-to-It) Gen 22:14.
And God's response to Abraham?

"...I'll bless you—oh, how I'll bless you! ...because you obeyed me." (Gen 22:17-18 MSG)

Here are my humble conclusions (feel free to disagree):
  • God tests us so that our faith in him can increase
  • God tests us so that he can bless us.

Somehow... that makes me feel a lot better. God isn't throwing these things at us just to see how we'll respond. He already knows, and he promises that we will not be tested beyond what we can bear (I Cor 10:13).

I know things don't always seem like they're working out so great during times of testing (just ask Job). And I know people a lot smarter than I am have probably written volumes on this subject. (Maybe if you've read them, you can let me know what they decided.) But for now, this is working for me. Strengthened faith and a blessing in the end. Works for me. What do you think?

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed... Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (Rom 4:18-21)

1 comment:

janjanmom said...

Funny you post on this...I was just discussing this with Erika and Kayla today. No one ever mentions the faith and obedience of Isaac. You know he had to know what was up-going to an altar with nothing??? He had to have HUGE trust for both his father and God. I told the girls I want that kind of trust and obedience from them. They looked a little scared.