Reflections: Times of Tests and Trials
Looking back on the past two years, most could
agree: twas a time of trials. Of being tested. The virus
made life harder for students and teachers. Harder
for sick people and their families, and for nurses trying
to treat their patients. A trial for those with jobs cut
back, reinvented or lost. A test in waiting longer for
business transactions as for seeing out-of-state family
members, A trial for those who lost family members.
And for those who fought off the virus but were left
with months of exhaustion and depression. Tougher
times for many in maintaining mental and family
“Testing and trials” are spoken of often in
Scripture. While suffering loss of family members and
possessions and health, with no let-up, Job asked
Why are we being tested every morning? Peter wrote
that we should not be surprised by painful trials –
they’re part of life and especially along the way of
Christ. So don’t let hard times block the joy and hope
central to your faith. James paradoxically urges us to
be glad for trials ”of all sorts” because they are
necessary for developing our endurance.
The Bible indicates that our loving Father
sometimes allows difficulties to remain, as a test of
our faithfulness. A co-worker who drains you, a
nagging pain in our back, a chronic financial shortfall
– our heavenly coach may be responding to our
prayers with a “not yet – there’s something more for
you to learn from this.” A trial all the more when we
don’t know why or for how long. Can we remain
courageous, gracious and hopeful, undeterred in trust
and in carrying out our assignment?
God understands – because he, too, is tested.
Those who claim to belong to him sometimes test his
patience. We are not to “put the Lord to the test” as
Jesus said when tempted. But we are invited to test
God’s promises, such as his reward for tithing, for
generous giving. We are invited to test and approve
his will as pleasing and right for us. And we are
invited to test ourselves (before accusing others), that
we are staying on track.
If tough times are indeed a test or a trial, we
expect a finish line and a pay-off. So James assures
us, Blessed are those who persevere under trial,
because when they have stood the test, they will
receive the crown of life promised to those who love
him. Peter agrees: After you have suffered a little
while, the God of all grace will restore you and make
you strong, firm and steadfast. So don’t give up!