Does God test us?
I was chatting with a good friend the other day and she mentioned my blog. She flat out asked me, “Anne how do you know the difference between God testing you and the devil testing you?” I love friends like this. The ones that really make you think deeply about your faith and what you truly believe.
Over the last few months, I have felt God testing my relationship with money. It is a test like in school. I would say it is similar to a teacher testing her students over a subject matter that she just taught. It makes me uncomfortable when God tests me and I get a little nervous, but I don’t feel evil.
On the other hand, when the devil tests me, I feel drained, exhausted, worn down, and honestly I can feel the presence of evil. Every time I am doing something great for God, the devil tests me. He sneaks into my life, unexpectedly, and usurps whatever I am trying to do for God. God preps me for these devil temptations.
Today I listened to Fr Robert Barron’s sermon on the scriptures in Habakkuk. Ever since going to a conference this summer, I have been intrigued by the prophet Habakkuk. In this book of the bible, he cries out in sorrow and disgust to God because he doesn’t understand the evils of the world. He doesn’t understand why God is allowing such evil to occur. Habakkuk is one of the few prophets who questions God. Pretty courageous guy, wouldn’t you say? Anyway, Habakkuk prays for God’s intervention because he doesn’t understand what God is doing.
Oh man, how many times have I said that to God? I can remember several times in my life where I have questioned God on what the heck He is doing. I was sure He just didn’t understand the repercussions of His actions or allowances. God, don’t you see the chaos you are causing? I had a good friend tell me once that God does not make things happen. He doesn’t give family members cancer, he doesn’t inflict pain on you, he doesn’t cause evil to happen; BUT he does allow it to happen sometimes. We do not understand that. We cannot see God’s plan clearly, but He does. The one thing we can count on though is that He will make good happen from everything. As Fr. Barron says, “God is in the business of doing good.”
Romans 8:28 We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.
Habakkuk asks the same questions that we ask God today. I am positive that is what draws me into this book of the bible. I concur with Habakkuk. If I was there with him, I would be slapping him a high five or giving him a little fist pump. Way to go buddy! I would be standing right next to him, looking upwards toward God, saying the exact same thing. “Yah God, why are you doing these things? Why are you letting those vindictive people off so easy?”
The answer is perfectly clear (at least to God it is). ONLY God knows why he is allowing these things to happen.
Does God test us? Absolutely, He tests His people all the time, but not with evil. He preps us for evil temptation; he prepares us for what may lie ahead.
So those of you who are familiar with the bible may think about – Noah and the ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, the 10 plagues on the Egyptians, and the battle of Jericho. Why did God lash out at them? Wasn’t that God using evil? When we harden our hearts so much to God that our sole mission in life is to demean His presence and stomp out any good that He gives us, then unfortunately you may see repercussions from God. God will do everything possible to unharden your heart and open your mind once again to Him. He loves all of you that much. Throughout the bible – before God does any harm to people – He reveals His patience and love of the people. Unfortunately in some cases the people do not care. They turn their backs to God and continue their evil ways. Those people give God no choice. I guess you could say, these people are the exception to the rule.
Thankfully, my friend really made me think about this one. I had a hard time voicing my thoughts, but as I prayed about it and read up on it, I realized my instinct was right. God’s tests are ones that make us think out of the box, they increase our faith naturally. Satan’s tests make us feel evil; they undermine our efforts for God.
Before you cry out to God asking Him why He would do this to you? Think about what really is testing you. Think about where your faith life is headed. Pray for God’s help and guidance because as Jesus said, “Forgive them because they know not what they do.” That is so true…
James 1:12-13 Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him. If we are tempted by such trials, we must not say, “This temptation comes from God.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.