No student likes exams week, but you have to go through it to pass your year. The Bible says that all of God’s children also take tests. Are you going to get the passing mark?
Taking a test is rarely fun. We have the stress of searching our memory to answer questions properly, and also the fear of being judged. Even though we tell ourselves that failing an exam doesn’t mean we are a failure, it is still difficult for our self-esteem to get a bad mark. Humans from an early age do not like to be told they have made a mistake; they don’t like to be corrected (Ah! That ugly pride!). Hence the stress of taking an exam.
The same goes for medical exams. There are no questions to answer, but if we are to test some of our abilities, it is because there is a possibility that the result will be bad news for us. Either we risk hearing a frightening fatal report or the doctor will correct some of our bad habits and that won’t be fun either. So the thought of taking tests, no matter what is never pleasant.
When we talk about tests from God, our reaction is the same. We become uncomfortable, discouraged at times. Maybe that’s why God doesn’t always tell us that we are taking a test! We usually learn it after we get the result! Job didn’t know he was taking a test, he just thought that suddenly God was unjust. Philip also did not know that Jesus was testing him. “When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do” (John 6:5-6 NIV).
Since God knows us by heart, He does not test us to see whether or not we are ready for a blessing or a promotion. So why test us? Maybe to show ourselves that we are capable, that we have matured, or that we need to be corrected to move forward. Trials are useful in our introspection to become a better version of ourselves.
Speaking of trials, although they are never pleasant, God does not send cancer to someone to test them. Illness does not come from God; He is a good Father who does not want to see his children suffer. A trial can be demanding, can be uncomfortable, and stretch our spiritual muscles, but its purpose is to correct or uplift us. A disease aims to destroy us, to kill us; it cannot come from God. However, while we are fighting the disease, God can use this circumstance to teach us something. This is how every situation in our life becomes an opportunity (Romans 8:28).
If you develop your disciple’s ear (Isaiah 50:4), you will be able to discern when you have failed or passed a test. “Ah, I should have trusted God, He had already planned the solution, I shouldn’t have worried.” With practice, you will even be able to tell if you are currently in a testing period. “This situation seems out of my control. Maybe this is a test to remind me to trust God!” You will see, when trials arise and instead of panicking you decide to view it as a test of faith or character, your approach will be different. Don’t be discouraged if you realize you’ve failed a test - you’ll have the chance to pass another one in a few months. The Holy Spirit tends to make us go through the same type of tests again until we get the passing mark.
How is your singleness test going? What does this tell you about your relationship with God, your character, your faith? “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV). Don’t think your wedding will be your graduation! No! Marriage is another school with equally difficult tests.