• Dick Sharber

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!

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