It's Only A Test

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 1:2-4  

It’s been well said, “it’s not what happens to us that matters most. It’s how we respond to what happens to us that matters most.” So far I’d give myself a C as my cumulative grade on all the tests the Lord has given me since we first began our house remodel. Every day I am confronted with learning how to count it all joy when I fall into various trials as every day of this home improvement project is providing plenty of trials for me to fall into. Trials I’m learning aren’t something you can plan for, as much as they are something you respond to the best you can. To fall into a trial implies a lack of control over the circumstances but not the response. I can’t keep the trials from coming but I can learn how to handle them far better than I currently am.

I read an article about the military in the 1950’s and how in basic training they taught soldiers how to swim. They took the entire platoon to the pool and told them to jump in. The soldiers who could swim immediately jumped in and the ones who couldn’t were pushed in by their commanding officers, some soldiers screaming for their lives in fear. Most of the soldiers took to water like a duck to a pond and the ones who couldn’t swim were flailing their arms and crying for help. The commanding officers yelling through bullhorns instructed the troops to either swim (if they knew how, or to stand up if they couldn’t.”) It turned out that the water was only 5 feet deep making it possible to stand up if you couldn’t swim. It was a test, a trial not so much about swimming but about how a soldier responds to adversity.

1 Peter 1:6-7 reminds us, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I confess I am not patient but I am learning patience. If I had my choice in learning patience I would have God send me first class to Bora Bora for a month where I would sit in a lounge chair or a lay in a hammock for most of the day and sip fresh coconut water or some fruit smoothie as I soak up the sun waiting patiently for the resort staff to serve me, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes, this is the type of waiting I would enjoy doing. God has other plans to teach me patience. So far God has had the electrician come over and give me a quote on doing our remodel project and then blowing me off for a couple months without returning any of my calls or texts after starting the job and then just leaving without saying a word. I am pretty sure I received a D on that trial.

The next electrician didn’t fair any better. After explaining to him how I got burned by the first electrician the second one went out of his way to tell him how good he was and how prompt he would be on our house. After weeks of waiting I terminated our agreement. The good news this time is I made some improvement, ever so slight, but there was progress. I’d give myself a solid C on this test. The third electrician reminds me of the old saying regarding finding the right husband, “you have to kiss a few toads before you find your prince.” The third electrician is a prince. He has more than made up for the other two put together only proving that God is faithful. The trials I have had to endure of late have nothing to do with the electricians themselves, they were simply the instruments God used to proctor my test to teach me patience. Coming to that conclusion raised my grade to a B.

Remember, loved one, trials are things we fall into. We don’t plan to fall into them, and they do little to teach us but do much to expose what’s already in us. Trials have a unique way of revealing our heart and our attitudes. If we believe God is in the trial we would be a lot more patient enduring it and much more observant as to the lesson He is seeking to teach us along the way. We already know the end result of the trial itself as James answers that for us. God is allowing trials in our lives with the hope that we would allow patience to have its perfect work, that we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Trials then are part of God’s sanctifying work in our lives that serve to set us free from ourselves. Like I said, I have a solid C going now. More trials are forthcoming for sure and the best way you and I can get ready for them is to stay ready for them. How might we do that you might be thinking…

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:25


Michael Osthimer





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