Many people wonder why good, law-abiding brethren, friends and relatives sometimes experience difficulties and problems when they have done nothing wrong and no one has wronged them. Children often wonder why their parents are going through a period of difficulty when all they see are parents who diligently obey God and His commands.
Why does a supposedly loving, caring and merciful God allow such good people to suffer for no apparent reason? This is an age-old question that deserves an answer.
One analogy to consider, to shed light on this perplexing question, is the comparison of a brand new car being produced—say the latest Volkswagen Bug. That new car goes through years of careful design by teams of experts. Millions of dollars are spent in planning, design and endless computer simulations. There’s wind tunnel analysis, painstaking model construction and market research of everything down to the paint and interior design.
Yet, when it all comes together—perfectly designed and manufactured—what is the first thing that takes place? What must happen prior to product advertising and release?
It must be thoroughly road tested, using special test tracks and expert drivers in all weather and terrain conditions.
Why? Because there is something wrong with the car? Because all those millions of dollars, research and meticulous manufacture are guaranteed to be a waste of time and effort?
No. The manufacturer must know for sure that their new car does indeed work. And work under all possible road conditions and circumstances.
It looked great in planning.
It looked great on the computer and in simulation.
It looked great in wind-tunnel tests.
It looked great in production.
But it still has to be proven and tested in real-life situations.
And that is exactly why our great God tests and proves His children—children one day to be trusted with eternal life. That’s a far greater future and responsibility than pieces of metal attached to rotating rubber driving down the road.
The testing is not done to prove there is something wrong, evil or sinful, but simply to test, to make infinitely sure and certain His children will not fail, in the test track of life.
Sometimes problems, tests and challenges do come upon us because we do sin, or others sin against us, or even because of the evil, sinful world in which we live. However, as we have seen, sometimes the reason—and the only reason—is that God is testing our faith, patience, endurance and trust.
It’s not because there is something wrong "that needs fixing," not because of sin in our life, but simply because He wants to know we will continue to look to Him no matter what.
Test Driving King David
King David even asked God to do just that—to test his faith. Notice Psalm 26:1-2: "Vindicate me, O LORD . . . examine me . . . and prove me; try my mind and my heart." That’s a very courageous request indeed.
The word vindicate means to "clear of blame or suspicion...establish the existence, merits, or justice of one’s courage, conduct, assertion, etc." (Australian Oxford Dictionary). In verses 3 through 6, David expressed his resolution to remain innocent of any blame and had the confidence and courage to ask God to establish the fact he was indeed without blame. (After, of course, having repented of known sins.)
Also notice in Psalm 17:1-3 that God did indeed "road test" King David. "Let my vindication come from Your presence . . . You have tested my heart . . . You have tried me and have found nothing." David went through many tests in life, not because of sin, but due to God’s intent, plan and desire to test out—to prove—His servant. Just as that car manufacturer had to test out his new car in real life.
Many scriptures show how God tests His people. In 2 Chronicles 32:31 we read where God tested Hezekiah. Why? "To test him, that He might know all that was in his heart." Words, even actions, are often not enough. God looks right down into our hearts to ensure we will obey Him no matter what circumstances we face. No matter what tests He places before us.
It is of note that in the following verse (verse 32) that the "goodness" of Hezekiah is mentioned, showing that the testing he went through was not because of evil or sin.
In Deuteronomy 8:1-2 we read how God tested ancient Israel, to see if they would follow Him in spite of trials—"to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." Israel pathetically and abysmally failed that test, revealing a stubborn and rebellious heart. They most certainly failed their road test!
However the testing of Israel, of King David and Hezekiah shows us how God works. He is intent on testing His people, to see what is in their hearts. Not, on these occasions, to correct for sin, but simply to test. To prove, to vindicate, to "establish the merits or justice of one’s courage and conduct."
Just as our carmaker tests his new creation, God likewise continually tests His new creation of a potential eternal, spirit being that He must know will not fail.
Consider also Jeremiah 11:20 and 17:10.
And we all know how God tested Job, a man known as blameless and without sin (Job 1:1, 8, 22.) Notice also Job 23:10: "But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me." Job faced perhaps the toughest "road testing" of all and came through that test without sin. Job 42:7 records that Job spoke of God "what is right." He passed the test!
And remember Job was not being corrected for sin, as many commentators try to imply. True, he had to learn his place in relationship to his God, as we read in Job 38. But not to repent of any specified sin.
In Job 42:6 the word translated "abhor" can mean, "to disappear." Job, as he was being tested, came to the point of "disappearing" in his own importance in comparison to the Creator God. God, in Job chapter 38, reminds Job that the project of creating the earth itself was a little more complex than anything Job had done. In considering that majestic comparison, Job "disappeared."
The Ultimate Test
Perhaps the greatest example of all, showing how God tests His children not for any sin or fault, is found in Genesis 22. Of course this is the account of Abraham where he was instructed to offer up his son, Isaac.
Abraham looked good on the drawing board.
Abraham mouthed all the right words.
But would he stand up to the greatest test of his life?
Sin was not in question. Abraham was not being corrected. Genesis 22:12 tells us why he was being tested: "For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." Abraham passed the greatest "road test of life" as he obeyed God unconditionally, in faith, trust and the fullest of confidence.
Consider Hebrews 11:17-19. "By faith Abraham, when he was tested . . . [concluded] that God was able to raise him up." Abraham believed that even if he had to go ahead and slay his son, God would then "raise him up"—resurrect Isaac back to life. So Abraham was not being merciless, uncaring or sadistic in showing a willingness to slay Isaac. Rather, he passed the ultimate test by trusting God to simply bring Isaac back to life. And symbolically He did: "From which he also received him in a figurative sense."
Another test passed with flying colors!
In this connection I suggest you also read James 2:21-22. Also read from verse 14 through 20, where James explains that faith, by itself, is not sufficient proof of our standing before God. "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?" (James 2:21). Works are the process of being tested and proven.
Another set of Scriptures to consider is 1 Corinthians 3:11-15: "Each one’s work will become clear . . . it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work." Why? Because (verse 16) there is so much at stake: "You are the temple of God." God wants to know—must know—that we are worthy of being part of that temple and the residing place of His Spirit. "For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (verse 17). When we catch a fleeting glimpse of that spiritual reality, we can only wonder and be amazed that we are not tested beyond our present level of testing.
No wonder King David begged God to examine him and prove him. How much more should we echo those same thoughts and desires, to be tested as worthy to be part of the temple of God.
More Precious Than Gold
Peter talks of the necessity of trials and testing in the life of a Christian in 1 Peter 1:7: "That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes [or a new car that eventually rusts and decays], though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Abraham, Job, King David, Hezekiah and all our brothers and sisters in Christ mentioned in Hebrews 11 went through that process of having the genuineness of their faith tested. And all have been found to have brought praise, honor and glory to the name of their God.
Do we give God honor as we go through the tests He places before us? Do we also resist pointing the finger as we see our brethren going through trials and tests?
And, again, why does our faith have to be "tested by fire"? Because God "has begotten us again to a living hope . . . to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:3-4).
God speed your progress and travels through the test track of life! UN