All of my life I have heard people talk about how God tests people. I never really put much thought into it. From a human beings perspective, it sounds as if God might tell someone to do something just to see if they do it, or he might let Satan torture them to some extent in order to see how faithful they stay to Him through our hard times. I think that is a common human’s interpretation of God “testing”, because that is how we as humans test each other. But lately I feel like I have looked at it a lot deeper. I have been reflecting on my own circumstances, and on Scripture to come to a better understanding. I am going to try and explain the best I can without too much incoherent rambling:
I think many people tend to completely forget about an issue that is going on in this world that is called “spiritual warfare”. It’s easy to forget about, and when things don’t go our way we simply say, “life sucks”.
One thing that I think separates me from most of my peers is that I learned what my purpose was in this life many years ago. I had God’s will figured out in my heart at a young age, and this is something some people never figure out.
God’s will for each of our lives include that which is called the “Great Commission” (I could write an entire post on this alone):
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
At a young age I knew that my purpose was to make a difference in this world for God, and it wasn’t because someone told me that was his will for my life, I believe it was because of this:
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
I believe that when we have a heart for God, we also will have His desires with out necessarily having to be told what they are. But that is getting slightly off topic. Where I really want to go with this is to explain that when we decide to follow God’s will for our lives, we will start to notice that things get harder. My entire life I have fought the great fight of spiritual warfare, so I feel like I know at least a little about what I am saying. Every single time I have buckled down and made the decision to live my life for God instead of myself, I hit major road blocks. In the past I have always let these road blocks deter me from God’s plans, and I end up sliding right back into that same old rut. It seems to me that the more determined we are to live for God, sometimes the bigger the road blocks.
It is obvious to me that things get worse when we are trying to live for God because Satan becomes involved in trying to deter us. He has no reason to be involved in our life when we are not living for God. Although, when we are not living for God I have to point out that most of the time we do enough damage to our lives with out Satan’s help.
Now we ask the question, “So why does God let Satan make our lives harder when we are trying to live for Him?” This is a very good question, which I will attempt to answer (and it has to do with the original topic I started with (testing)):
First, I want to say that I have been putting a lot of thought into this because ever since about a week after I signed up for my Theology classes I have been struggling with my health. For the sake of getting my point across, I’m just going to put it bluntly. I need surgery and I might have cancer. Being it I am more determined to stick to my guns than ever, nothing would surprise me (what I mean is that cancer would not surprise me because I know I am a threat to Satan these days). That might sound like I am looking at the glass half empty, and maybe I am. It’s not that I don’t have faith that God could/would cure me; I am just not sure what his plans are for me. So all I can do is pray and have faith that even if it seems bad, that God has a better ending than I can see (and I will certainly accept any prayers offered by you readers).
Now I want to look at this verse:
Ecclesiastes 35:18-21: 18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
You might recognize this verse from my last post. I used it in my debate about whether or not animals go to heaven, but ever since then this verse has been weighing on my mind. Yesterday I came to a place where I simply prayed that God would somehow save me with this struggle I have with my health (if that is his plan) and then this verse flashed through my mind. Somehow it all made sense. I am not sure if it was God’s way of speaking to me, or if it was simply wisdom through Scripture. I think it may have been a bit of both.
My focus here is on verse 18: I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.
What I realized in an instant is the answer to that question, “So why does God let Satan make our lives harder when we are trying to live for Him?” First of all, let me just say that God does not let Satan do anything that was not already purposed in his will for our lives. How frustrating it must be to Satan that he is always working in accordance to God’s plan! (Job is a good example of this, but again, I could write a whole other post about that).
So how is it that God tests us so we may see we are like the animals? How are we like the animals? What I feel has been revealed to me is this:
Genesis 1:26: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So we were made to rule over the animals, and they depend on us. Think about it. Our pets depend on us in every way. They depend on us to provide for them, to feed them, to take them to the vet when they are sick. Even the wild animals depend on us to a certain extent. They depend on us to preserve a species when it is going extinct, and even they will die if they are sick unless one of us helps them. In those ways, we are like the animals. We depend on God in all of these things. So we are tested not so that God can learn how faithful we are, (how silly that would be; He already knows!) but so that we may be reminded of how dependent we are on Him. It is so we can learn how to have more faith, how to become a stronger Christian, and a stronger person.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.