Dear church,

How do you handle your trials? Our problem is not that we find ourselves in trials but that we so often respond to them as if we are people of this world. The purposes of our trials – the testing of God – is not so that we somehow can earn our way into heaven or prove that we are stoic in the face of disaster. It is not about “passing” the test. No, the purpose of the test is so we can see this world in full clarity, and so we can see God in that way as well.

This is an era of great tests of our faith and of our loves. A global pandemic has caused humanity to shudder, some in fear and some in anger. A contested election has resulted in pointing fingers. A wobbly economy has left many anxious. Health officials close businesses, and workers suffer and sue.

Those who are willing can see these trials and afflictions as moments of grace. It is only in moments like these, when things are stripped away from us or threatened to be removed, that we can we see vivid reality. In what do we really put our faith? What do we really love? 

Our response in these times of loss allows for a deep examination and refining of our hearts. We can know for certain what we love the very most – and where we place our ultimate hopes.

“After these things God tested Abraham …” (Genesis 22:1). Upon what was Abraham putting his hope? He was about to find out. The love of Abraham was not first of all on anything of this world. He was a man who relied on nothing other than the power of God for his future and his welfare – and for the fulfillment of the promise. Abraham was not about to take matters into his own hands. His was a life of steadfast faithfulness to God.

Testing allows us to see what we really love. The stark clarity gives us a moment to really know. And if we don’t like what we see of ourselves in these moments of trial, we can begin moving in another direction. We can repent. 

More testing will come. The next time is another opportunity to grow.

Chris

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