Dependence, Relationship, Trusting God, Uncategorized

Test: God Is With Us

Test

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Why does God test us?

As I was reading Judges 3, I made it to the second verse before the Lord stopped me.

“These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wards in Canaan 2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience):…” (NIV)

And it goes on to list the nations.

The first time I read this, I thought about the Lord testing the Israelites, as in—did He want them to fail? What was He testing? Their abilities?

Zion hiking between rocks

As I read on, I realized God had good in mind for His people. He wanted them to learn how to do battle, because do battle they would, if they were going to claim their Promised Land.

Sometimes I forget that when God allows hard things into my life, He has good in mind for me.

It’s true for all of us.

We have to understand that we may not see His good in ways we expect.

God’s specific purpose for leaving some of the nations in the Promised Land was to test the Israelites.

Test—as in give them practice in mastering the skills of warfare. So they could use those skills to gain their reward.

God doesn’t send us into this world clueless and on our own. He gives us opportunities to practice battle skills in our everyday living— to develop disciplines that will strengthen and prepare us for life’s skirmishes.

Stormy beauty

Because we will all be caught in the fray of life’s hard at some point.

The Israelites engaged with very real enemies. Battles were fought not only on a physical level—learning how to wield weapons effectively, or to strategize how to attack a city—but also on a spiritual level.

Our God is a relational God. He desires fellowship with His children. He also requires obedience.

Part of the Israelites’ battle preparation came in learning to obey God, 

. . . to have a relationship with Him, 

. . . to lean on and listen to Him. 

To trust Him.

When has God placed us in situations where we are tested . . . where circumstances are way bigger than our ability to deal with them?

How many times have we found ourselves in a place where we don’t know how to move forward?

Looking out at the ocean

He prepares us for tests we’ll face in this life. (Click to Tweet)

We may not always recognize His teaching methods as such. But, as we walk through our days,

. . . as we learn to hear His voice,

. . . as we learn to trust Him,

. . . we are building up our arsenal of skills for when the tests come.

And come, they will. We live in a fallen world.

When life’s hard swirls around and inside us at a dizzying pace, what are we going to do?

Will we try to battle it out in our own strength?

Will we swing our sword at every shadow we spot?

Will we aim our arrows toward the circumstances, release, and hope they hit a target?

Big waves

Or, will we choose to seek Him? Will we cry out to Him for help? Will we take a step back, ask Him for His battle plan before moving forward?

Can I be honest and say that, too often, I’ve been the one who flies onto the battle front, sword drawn and swinging wildly.

I’ve been the one who ends up discouraged and exhausted when the tests goes on, the circumstances don’t change, and I’ve expended all my energy.

Father and child

God is always with us. He wants us to seek Him, to depend on Him as we engage the tests in this life.

He doesn’t test us out of spite.

He tests us to help us learn how to draw close to Him. And, also to show us the victory when we walk through the battles with Him.

1 Chron 28-20 God won't forsake copy

Because there are victories in this life. We do overcome our enemy. Sometimes we see victories this side of heaven. Other times, we see them when we come into His presence. And we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

When we walk through tests, remember God is for us. He is with us. And, He loves us.

What about you? How has God equipped you for tests you’ve walked through? When have you seen a victory in a test or a battle?

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett and Kelly Balarie’s A Purposeful Faith blog.

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15 thoughts on “Test: God Is With Us”

  1. I’m not sure about this, Jeanne. I think some situations are simply the result of a Creation that requires free will…and that free will can make manifest some pretty awful things.

    For my own situation, if I thought God was testing me, it’s gone far beyond anything that could have value. It’s simply a beasting that I have to endure. There is no moral good coming now; only a dull acceptance which is, truth be told, becoming a hopeless acceptance.

    Perhaps I am weaker than most, but I don’;t think so. I’ve kept focus through a lot, but this is getting kind of ridiculous.

    My feeling is that God is upset by the whole thing, but that the free will requirement would be made meaningless if He intervened…and that He did not ‘send this’ as a test. It just happened, but He will help me through it.

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    1. Andrew, you bring up a good point that I should have clarified in my post. I’m not implying that all trials or hardships we face are tests from God. I agree with you. Some things happen as the result of living in a broken world, and as a result of free will. I think there are times when God allows us to be tested for various reasons, but not everything we face in this life is a test from Him. I don’t know if this makes sense. Thank you for bringing this up. It’s an important aspect to consider that I did not elaborate on in the post.

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  2. I believe that every test is, in fact, a test of our faith and trust. Will we really believe the promises of God, even when everything else is falling apart? Just as a baby is not given a bottle right off the stove, the temperature and taste are tested. God never gives us more than we can handle!

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    1. Julie, I believe when God tests us, He’s strengthening us in our relationship with Him. And, I agree that He often allows tests that strengthen our faith and trust in Him. When God gives us what looks like “too much to handle,” we can be assured it’s never too much when He’s helping us, right? Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  3. “He has good in mind for us” … yes, oh yes. The best parent. It’s like letting your kid drive in the rain for the first time … you don’t want to let them, you’d rather drive for them, but you know they have to learn–learn how to maneuver through the storms.

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    1. Yes, Shelli. Good example. It reminds me of my yesterday. We live in a neighborhood where teens have threatened to steal my son’s electric scooter. So, I’ve not let him ride it without an adult with him. Yesterday my boys wanted to go to the park, with him riding the electric scooter. I didn’t want to let them go, but I have to give them room to spread their wings. After they left, two teens were walking toward the park. I got so nervous about this. Such a minor thing, I know. I had to trust God to protect my boys. When they came home, scooter included, I was relieved. 😉

      It must’ve been hard to let your girl drive in the rain that first time. I’m not there yet, but those years are on my horizon. Thank goodness God protects us and goes with us, even in the tests, right?

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  4. Jeanne,
    Like you, often during trials, I have to completely get to the end of myself before I will collapse – exhausted – and then turn it over to the Lord. That seems to be my MO. I am learning, albeit slowly, that during trials I need to (more than ever) lean into him. I love the verse – The Lord will fight for me; I need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14). As I learn to lean and to trust, and as I come through each trial I see God’s faithfulness and that, in turn, builds my confidence. I do believe that God allows these trials so as to build our dependence on Him and THAT is our best battle skill. Great thought-provoking post!
    Blessings,
    Bev

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    1. Like you, Bev, I’m learning (oh, so slowly) to turn things over to the Lord sooner, and to lean into Him. And that verse you shared is perfect! I need to highlight it. I like your closing thought. That our depending on God is our greatest battle skill. I’m taking that one and meditating on it. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  5. Timing is everything and your post has God’s timing written all over it. Life does not always come with sunshine and rainbows and even as I gain more life experience, I am still faced with struggles and challenges. I love these words of truth and hope… “He tests us to help us learn how to draw close to Him. And, also to show us the victory when we walk through the battles with Him.” Amen! Thank you for speaking truth and life into me just where I need it today. Blessings and hugs!

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    1. Mary, I love when God does that. Aren’t we funny creatures, that we want/expect life to be sunshine and rainbows? I believe it’s through the clouds and struggles that we learn to lean into Jesus and stand on our faith, yes? As always, I love your thoughts shared in my space. Thank you!

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  6. Such a thought provoking Post Jeanne. I love this topic. We must remember God is sovereign and nothing happens without his permission…Job for example. There are times like you said that trials may result from the sinful world we live, wrong choices we make,or Satan wanting to destroy us. Regardless, as God reminds us in Romans 8:28-29, everything is to confirm us to His likeness. We learn to seek and depend on Him . it seems weird but i thank God for the trials He has brought me through… they have transformed my relationship with Him! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I hope you have an amazing week and may God richly bless you and yours!

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    1. Horace, yes. God’s sovereignty, though difficult to understand can be such a comforting thing. To know He knows everything that comes across our paths, and that nothing is wasted . . . I’m so thankful for this.

      Romans 8:29 is one of my life verses. It’s fitting when we think about the tests we face, isn’t it? Having a heart that can thank God for the trials He’s brought you through is a good thing. I sometimes struggle to do this.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  7. As of late, he has been teaching me to seek with my whole heart, as opposed to half or even a quarter of my heart. Reading this post was like giving my soul a little bit of water, just to keep me going. I know the Lord is teaching me, it’s just that he’s so patient with me, and it drives me nuts that he is so patient and I am not! I really enjoyed reading this post. I hope it’s not too hot where you are.

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    1. Tamara, I, too, am so thankful for God’s patience with me. I guess the more of His patience, the more we can grow in living it out . . . right? 🙂 It hasn’t been uber-hot. Nothing is really hot till you’ve lived in Las Vegas during monsoon season where you have the extreme heat and humidity. 🙂 I hope you’re managing okay in your area of the country as well. 🙂

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