When God Tests

If God is all-knowing, why does he feel the need to still test us? If he already knows whether we're going to fail or succeed, what's the point of the test?
by Lorraine E. Espenhain | Source: Catholic.net

One of the most puzzling statements I’ve ever come across in the Holy Bible is found in Deuteronomy 8:2, in which Moses makes the following statement to the children of Israel: "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands."

A statement like this can be puzzling because it leaves one with the mistaken impression that God puts us through tests from time to time because he is desperately seeking information and knowledge about the condition of our hearts. Since when does God need to be informed about anything? He’s omniscient, all-knowing. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees every wrong decision or foolish turn we’re going to make before we do. Is it possible that although God is omniscient, there are things about us that even He doesn’t know? Is the condition of our heart so hidden from God that the only way he can discover what is truly in us is to take us through a test so that He can be educated? Of course not. Why, then, does God put us through tests?

He tests us in order that we may learn a thing or two about ourselves. He tests us in order that we may be enlightened and educated concerning areas in our lives in which we are weak and need to be changed. It would be wonderful if God would simply dispatch an angelic messenger our way in order to inform us about weaknesses in our lives that need to go or be changed, but that’s not the way he does it. Simpler yet, would be a divine recommendation to read a certain book which deals with that particular weakness. Whether we like it or not, God is able to get his point across much better after we’ve miserably failed a test or are going through that test.

Sometime ago, in a communist country where it is against the law to worship Christ, some Christians gathered secretly for a Sunday morning meeting. With no warning, armed soldiers came charging through the front doors of the building where the believers were meeting. Screaming to the people, they said, "You are going to be shot for your faith. We will, however, give you one last chance to escape with your lives. All those who are willing to die for their faith, stand to the right side of the wall. All those who wish to renounce their faith and live may leave now." The only ones who were willing to stand to the right side of the wall were the pastor, his wife, and a few little old ladies. Everyone else "peeled wheels for Jesus" by bolting out the front door. After the "renouncers" left, the soldiers smiled, put down their guns, and said, "Praise the Lord! We too are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we have come to worship. We simply did not wish to worship with hypocrites!"

Did God put that church through a test because He was in need of information? No. He allowed them to go through that frightening ordeal in order to educate them and show many of them that their commitment  to Christ was not as they thought it was. The pastor could have preached on commitment that day, but it probably would have fallen on deaf ears, since many of the people believed that they were already committed to Jesus. After all, they were in church, weren’t they? But the test revealed the truth and taught them a lesson that none of them would soon forget, didn’t it?

If you have recently failed a test, don’t be discouraged. After all, today’s success was yesterday’s failure. Today’s Christ-like characteristic was yesterday’s fault. God allowed you to go through that test (knowing that you would fail) because there is something that He is trying to teach and change in you. There is something that He is trying to bring to your attention - something that He will help you with if you'll only reach out to Him.

When we find ourselves going through a difficult test,  we shouldn't look up to Heaven and ask, "Why?" Instead, we should ask, "What? What is it, Father, that you are trying to change or produce in me?"

Perspective is everything. If we learn to look at life’s tests as instruments in the hands of a loving God, instead of weapons in the hands of Satan, this will determine whether or not we yield or resist, which in turn will determine whether we succeed or fail.

May God, in his grace and goodness, grant all of us a teachable spirit when going through the difficult tests of life.  May he do this, that Christ might be glorified in us, and we in Hhm.



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Published by: Lorraine Espenhain
Date: 2011-08-03 21:52:20
Lesiba, With all due respect, my teaching does not contradict the biblical text at all. According to your interpretation, God is not all-knowing; therefore, he needs to test man in order to seek information and learn things. This is a direct contradiction to what we see in the Scriptures. In Saint John's Gospel, John wrote as follows: "Jesus did not need man's testimony about man, FOR HE KNEW WHAT WAS IN A MAN." Jesus is God, is He not? God is omniscient. As such, He already knows what is in a man. God's knowledge of us is unlimited. All throughout the Old Testament, we see many situations in which God tests His people in order to determine if they will follow Him or not. This does not mean that God does not already 'know' what is in their hearts or how those being tested will respond. He tests us in moral experiences in order that we might know the true condition of our hearts and where we stand with Him. God doesn't test us in order to find out information He doesn't already know. Rather, He tests us so that we can learn about ourselves and His love, power, forgiveness, and faithfulness. Do you want Biblical proof of this? Jesus knew that Peter was going to be tested by Satan, who asked to sift him. Jesus also knew that Peter was going to initially fail the test. Listen to what He said to Peter, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. AND WHEN YOU HAVE TURNED BACK, strengthen your brothers." Peter swore up and down that he would never deny the Lord. "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death," he said. But Jesus, because He was omniscient, already knew that Peter would fail. Jesus said, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me." God allowed Peter to be tested, not because He needed to acquire information about Peter, for he already knew that Peter was going to fail. He allowed Peter to go through the test and to fail so that Peter might learn something about himself. Before the test, Peter swore undying faithfulness and loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ. In his mind, he was strong, courageous, faithful, and ready to die for Christ. But the test proved otherwise, didn't it? Jesus already knew that Peter would fail the test. It was Peter who needed to learn these things about himself. Catholic.net encourages feedback from its readers, but we ask that when doing so, you conduct yourself in a Christlike manner and express your thoughts with gentleness, love, and respect. To accuse me of "making up my own message" and "changing the text in order to suit my omniscient presuppositions about God" is unfair, unjust, and uncharitable, to say the least. Dialog is encouraged at all times here at Catholic.net, but it must be carried out in a manner befitting children of God, for we are to imitate Him in all things. As Christians, we are to love one another, support one another, and edify one another. We are called to build up, not to tear down. I respectfully ask you to keep this in mind should you choose to particiate in any forums here at Catholic.net. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing, but when we express that disagreement in a manner that contradicts Christ's teaching then we bring great reproach to the Name of our Lord.

Published by: Lesiba
Date: 2011-05-20 06:11:26
Your explanation contradicts what the biblical text says, in other words, you're honestly making up your own message. The text clearly states that God tested Israel not only to humble them but to both know what was in their hearts and whether or not they would obey his commands. It seems to me that the clear reasons for God testing Israel are clear for all to see, why change the text meaning to suit your omniscient presuppositions about God? What you're arguing for is a philosophical idea you have about God which is either false or (if true) is based on another bible verse which clearly contradicts this one. Either way, one can't make any sensible conclusions about God's omniscience seeing that this is a confusing (if not contradictory) topic.

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