Testing 1-2-3

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. —Proverbs 17:3

Perhaps nothing produces a greater groan among students than these six words: “We’re going to have a test.” For many, this means study time (or avoiding it) and the prospect of missing their mark yet again. Moreover, for the “fixed mindsets”1 among us, tests results are self-defining, our very identity hinging on peer comparisons. But here is what we overlook when focusing only on our rigors and our errors: tests reveal and affirm what we do know and what we are doing well. IT teams test constantly to find glitches, yes, but also to verify what is functioning as it should. Engineers and manufacturers test routinely, both to assure customer safety and to improve it. Lab results pinpoint real problems and rule out mere possibilities. Tests reveal both progress and potential.

Then should we be surprised that God tests us? After all, isn’t our eternal soul more important than computer programs, consumer products and clinical prognoses that vanish over time? Marveled Job before God, “What is man that You magnify him, and that You are concerned about him, that You examine him every morning and try him every moment?”2 Even in his affliction—and perhaps especially so—this man of legendary suffering understood that tests are ultimately for our good and our glory. “How so?” we ask. First, testing grows us up. “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”3 Second, the more we suffer as Christ did, the more closely we relate with Him—we “participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that [we] may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”4 Then as we press on through life’s challenges, our tests yield their intended result, for “blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”5

What temptations once snared you, but not so much any longer? I’m guessing there are some. Have you come to trust God more and doubt Him less as you navigated life’s trials with Him? I’ll bet you have. Whether God initiates tests or merely allows them, they serve His purposes and work for our good, for tests reveal our progress and lead us toward our potential, both displaying His handiwork in our lives. Thank God for tests.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.7 In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 See more on “fixed” and “growth” mindsets in last week’s post: “The Mindset of Christ.”
2 Job 7:17-18 ESV
3 James 1:2-4
4 1 Peter 4:12-13
5 James 1:12
6 Psalm 139:23-24