Testing

 "See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction." (Isaiah 48:10)
"Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law. . ."
(Psalm 94:12)

Should we welcome the testing and discipline of God? My wise and wonderful bride loves the cliche', "There is no testimony without a test."

I know of a man, a faithful believer, who for many years shared with his friends about how God seemed to daily empty his basket of blessings on him and his family. It seemed no distress, no trial, no bad thing came their way. He even felt guilty that so many of his church family were oppressed by financial, health, and relationship problems. He was certainly not wealthy, at least not by American standards, but his family was financially comfortable. They enjoyed good health and his children and grandchildren all knew the Lord as their savior. He was surrounded by many friends and – well – life was just good.

And so, as he continued to grow in his faith he wondered why the Lord had not tested him. Somewhere along the line he had heard that if you're not having occasional journeys into a valley then perhaps your faith is too weak to be tested. Similarly he heard that Satan doesn't bother with those who aren't a threat to him. So, while not looking for cloudy skies, he did wonder.

You see the greatest test of our trust in God is when we have no-one else to turn to. As long as we're on the mountain top we give God the glory, we vocally praise and thank Him for His abundant ongoing providence. But mountain tops don't drive us to our knees in despair, crying out for relief, praying for mercy, begging for a cure, or employment, or forgiveness.

Its much harder to praise God when life gets hard, when you have an unfaithful spouse or a rebellious and delinquent child, when the job you thought would go on indefinitely suddenly disappears, and you wonder how you'll pay the rent and how you will feed your children; or when a loved one is stricken with an illness that may take them from you and additionally drive you into unbelievable indebtedness. That's when many would look up, perhaps shake a fist, and say "Why me Lord?" – "I don't deserve this!" But our God says "When you are weak, them I am strong"- "My grace is sufficient".

Though it may be hard, I would urge you to look at your affliction from a different viewpoint.

Let us first take another reading of our opening verse  – Isaiah 48:10. I typically use the NIV as a default interpretation because it is much easier to read than the King James. In some cases the interpretations are just as reliable but then, in some cases, as here, the rendering leaves us with an incomplete understanding. Reading from the KJV, "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."   Note the difference in the second part of the verse – the word 'chosen' verses 'tested'. The difference here is that the Hebrew word, bachar, is from a root – to try; such as, "I will try you out on my softball team – I choose you for  a trial run" Thus the KJV 'chosen' is far closer in interpretation than the NIV or ESV or NKJV 'tested'.

What the Lord is trying to get across is that He has chosen you to be tested. In His great love for you He has chosen you for a test of your faith, and in that sense we should indeed rejoice in that test. God has chosen me. . .

Let affliction come – God has chosen me. Poverty may intrude at my door, but God is already in the house. Sickness may invade, but we have a Salve ready – God has chosen me! Whatever might bring me to tears, I know that He has "chosen" me. Even in the valley of the shadow of death He says, "Fear no evil; for I am with you".

As for the 'man I knew' and what became of his life on the mountain top – that man was your author and he was indeed tested. He not only survived his journey into the valley – he was, I was, by God's good grace, victorious. I was surrounded by the family of God who bolstered my faith, showed me His face, and through them I knew His faithfulness –  that He was walking me, guiding me through the valley. Not only would I not walk the valley alone, but I would come through victorious. So I praise Him for loving me enough to choose me for a test. I pray you are chosen, for by so you may draw nearer to God than you would you ever know.

Trust Him and be blessed. . .

  

Comments

  1. Powerful!! Great insights!!!  Life is not a DIY project; rather it is to be lived in community with others as we struggle and enjoy the journey together!!!

  2. Thank you my brother in Christ for your weekly Witness Devotional.I was really touched this morning by the one entitled"TESTING" May God continue to Bless you and your family.I know that i have been healed from my illness. By having Faith and Trusting in his Holy name, i am healed. God Blessed. From: Ruth

  3. Thank you Mike for this beautiful devotional.  It touched my heart today!  Thank you for your gift of writing and for sharing it with us. God Bless You & Judy!

  4. Ron Surowitz says:

    We serve a good and awesome God and thank Him for His devotion to each of us. We will keep you in prayer as we petition him on behalf of you and your wife. God bless you my friend!

  5. Thank you, Mike for this wonderful devotional!  You have blessed me so many times with your words and comfort. You and Judy are my FAMILY – my Chosen Family – and I love you both so much! May God continue to bless you as you are Blessing all of us with your Faithfulness and Love.
    Noni     (You are my Spiritual Brother and Hero )

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