BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER & BLOGGER
Dave’s sermon this past weekend dealt with the subject of being tested by God. It’s an idea that I’ve struggled to understand and grasp in the past—mainly because I’ve never been comfortable with the idea that God would move into anyone’s life, having granted all of us free will, and create negative circumstances in order to test us.
So in listening to the Between Sundays podcast, I thought Barry nailed it when he posed this exact question. He asked where the line is between God creating a test to refine us versus the brokenness of the world having an affect on our lives. And he suggested that the line is where the test fails to align with the character of God. Maron added that for her, it’s less about defining where the test came from, and instead understanding that God promises to be with us through each test.
Can I just say, YES!!!
The more I think about the idea of being tested, I’m not convinced at all that the circumstances are the test. In every example I can think of, the test is this: Do you gain faith, or do you lose faith? When something disruptive happens in your life, do you still believe God is there? Do you still believe that God is for you? That’s what I believe the test truly is.
Now, having said that, I fully believe that God will show up in the spaces surrounding difficult circumstances. And perhaps he does this as a way to allow us additional opportunities for growth—because he knows we’re human and we need His grace if we just don’t test well sometimes. That is the character of the God I love.
Maron shared an example on the podcast of how God clearly showed up in her life recently. And I’ve got a few examples of my own, but I’ll share one in particular that has stood out in my life.
This May will mark the 6th anniversary of the most tragic event that has ever occurred in my life, which is my dad’s suicide. It came out of nowhere, it was totally out of character for my dad, and it has taken a long time for me to process. In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever stop processing it—it’s just not something that I feel I’ll ever be able to get over. For a long time right after his death, I felt incredibly broken and had a difficult time fully enjoying the many blessings remaining in my life. As much as I truly believed and felt that God was holding my hand in that moment, I was still depressed and consumed by grief. And I’ll admit that on a few occasions, I did try to temporarily turn away from God and numb that pain on my own. I failed that test more than once, but fortunately God allowed me to retake the test as many times as I needed to move forward in faith.
Two years ago on the 4th anniversary of my dad’s death, God gave me a little sign of His presence and love. I distinctly remember having made the decision in my head that morning not to post any somber sentiments on social media that would just get me all sad again that day. I was just going to go quietly through my day—until God stepped in and gave me something good to talk about. In the middle of breakfast time, a cardinal suddenly flew into our screened-in porch, sparking all manner of excitement for my kids and me. My very first thought was how I’d been told that cardinals were believed to be representatives of loved ones who had passed on (although I have no clue where I originally heard it). The cardinal stuck around for over an hour, even posing for a few photos. And he left me with a profound sense of gratefulness, because I knew in my heart it was no coincidence that he flew in for a visit that morning. That cardinal was God coming to deliver a big old hug for me that morning. He came to nudge me with an awesome opportunity to grow in faith.
And it worked. I was so filled with faith that I dropped everything to write down the experience and post it on my own blog. The rest of that day was an exchange of interactions with friends who had their own experiences with God to share, or love and support for me in my lingering grief. It was so beautiful. I may have failed the test in the years before, but I’m sure I passed with flying colors that day!
And I’m also sure that God will continue to show up in moments like that and the spaces of circumstances yet to come. I’ll no doubt falter a few more times in the tests of my life—but our God is a forgiving and loving God who waits patiently and offers us as many opportunities as we need to grow in our faith.
Are You Being Tested?
Do you feel like you're in the middle of a test? Or maybe you just got through the most difficult battle you've ever faced. Well, we'd ask that you share it. We know it can be hard to put it all out there, but people need to read your story so they can make it through theirs.