…That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7)
The idea of God testing his people has been on my mind lately.
I think about it frequently. I wonder why. I know that other Christians struggle with it.
“I’m just going through some testing right now.”
But what does that mean? Does it mean that God is giving you a final test that you had better pass?
Does it mean that God doesn’t know whether your faith is genuine or not and he is testing it to see?
Does it mean that if you can just get over the test with a passing score the difficulty will be taken away and then you can get down with receiving the blessing in your life?
A lot of questions. The answer to all of those questions is, “Certainly not!”
God already knows your heart, even better than you do. He is not surprised at your actions. When he called you and justified you and sanctified you, he already knew all about you. He isn’t going to say, “Wow! But I didn’t know you would do that! That’s it! I’m finished!” Certainly not!
Jesus came to call the sick, the sinner, the poor, the halt, the lame, the foolish, the ignorant, the outcast.
When God sees you, he sees the perfect righteousness of Christ. And he holds you firm with his almighty, infinite hand.
(John 10:27-30) 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
30 “I and My Father are one.”
When you are going through testing, it helps to read those verses again and again. “No one is able to snatch them from My Father’s hand.”
No, God doesn’t test for his own knowledge. His knowledge does not change with circumstances, but he knows all things by one act of divine will. His knowledge, like his being, is unchangeable, simple, undivided, perfect.
So why does he test us? We can only know what he has revealed.
Sometimes he tests us because Satan is slandering us in heaven (Job 1). Satan accuses us of only serving God because God gives us stuff. When everything is taken away, the beauty, majesty and wisdom of God shine through us to the world and Satan’s head is crushed.
Sometimes he tests us for our knowledge – so that WE would know that our faith is genuine. When the sun of tribulation comes up, genuine faith continues to hold to Christ.
But the greatest reason is given in 1 Peter 1:7. Faith is compared to gold. But it is buried under a lot of ore and dross. God tries us, as a goldsmith tries his gold. In the furnace of affliction, the dross is burned away so that the genuine, beautiful, shining gold remains – it is when we look most like our glorious Savior.
If you want to look like Christ, it begins with the cross. This life is a life of testing, the fires of the furnace, the pain of illness, and that is when the dross is burned away and the gold shines.
“The flames shall not hurt thee, my only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine”
If you meet someone and the light of Christ shines from them; when they lift up with words; love without hypocrisy, are kind without an agenda;
If you meet someone who lives 1 Corinthians 13 without even thinking about it;
Someone whose life and words and works are works of purity, beauty, love acceptance, kindness;
Who loves without fear…
You know then that you are in the presence of someone who has suffered much in the furnace of affliction.
It is how the gold of faith is made to shine.
2 responses to “When God tests his people…”
“You know then that you are in the presence of someone who has suffered much in the furnace of affliction.”
I would add to this that suffering in itself does not sanctify. My prayer of late is that, if I must suffer, God’s grace would allow me to suffer well and to be refined by that suffering. And as for times in the past when I suffered but resisted God’s sanctifying work? I am staking everything on a God who redeems all things, and I am living a redemption story.
Ah, my dear pastor, you have no idea how much you have blessed me, especially as you are walking through your season of suffering in such a public, open way.
Loved this encouragement… it is as true as can be. No suffering is ever wasted. There’s comfort in that. Thank you!