There are seasons in our life where it’s literally “spiritual test time”. Everything that can test you, will, and I believe that that is the season that I am in. Crazy part is, I know it and I am more focused and ready to take on these new tests each day. These seasons of testing are crucial to our spiritual growth and gifts. Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2)
During these times of testing, we may feel like God isn’t with us or that we are unable to handle what we are going through; but we have to remember that God would never put us in the pit without a purpose or a way out. I was reading book a couple months ago, and one of the chapters walked me through the story of Job. I slightly remembered the story from hearing it preached growing up, but not at all in this much detail. I remember calling my mom telling her how depressing it was to read because of all of the terrible things that kept happening to him. All until I got to the end of the chapter (in the book I was reading). Job faced a serious testing time in his life, just like us, he said, “But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23: 8-10)
In Job, we see a man who God allows to be directly attacked by Satan. He is an example of faithfulness as he loses everything important to him, yet remains faithful to God. The story’s purpose is to illustrate God’s sovereignty and faithfulness during a time of great suffering. God tests Job’s faithfulness through allowing Satan to attack him. Through Job’s trials, all is lost including his health, his wife even tells him to curse God and commit suicide, but he remains strong and faithful.
Along with that, Job’s friends give him plenty of bad advice, in rounds of discussion (which is a whole separate posts, about watching who you take advice from). They blame all his sufferings on his personal sins rather than, encourage and reinforce the fact that God is testing and growing Job. Only one of them was half correct in the fact that God wanted to humble him, but this was only a part of the test.
After all of that, God then speaks to Job and restores him. He knew that Job had received incorrect guidance from his friends. God fittingly declares that humans do not know everything. Then He humbles Job by asking a series of questions that could never be answered by anyone other than (Himself) God. He then brings Job to an understanding that believers don’t always know what God is doing in their lives. In the end, Job answers God by saying, “I have declared that which I did not understand”. God then blessed Job with TWICE as much as he had before his trials began.
Despite how he felt and regardless of how it looked, as if God was not there, Job knew that what he was going through was just a season of God pruning or testing him. And Job also knew that when God was finished with him he would come out as pure gold.
A few things to remember in this story:
Though Job could not begin to understand why all of these things were happening to him, he knew God was aware of it. He did not react, as Satan had predicted, by cursing or questioning God.
What we as believers experience is not generally time and chance. The devil does not “sneak up” while God’s back is turned. God is involved in every test that we undergo and He has established preset limits beyond which Satan cannot go. Neither the duration nor the intensity of the trial is completely open ended. Ultimately, God is in charge!
Though we are often at a loss to fathom what these tests are, God has reasons for allowing things to happen. In our trials and tests, James encourages us to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). If we do so in faith, He will give it. Whatever the trial or test, there is always growth that can be achieved.
It is relatively easy to trust God when things are going the way we like them. When the world around us makes sense it is fairly easy to believe God is in charge. But what about when things turn upside down and inside out? It is in the midst of such perplexity and anguish that faith in God is most needed.
We know that gold cannot become the precious metals that we crave for unless it goes through the fire. Not only through the fire, but it must be placed at its hottest point. Nothing good ever comes without a price, the same is true for your anointing and your spiritual growth.
If you want to be great in this life and in the kingdom of God, there is a price you have to pay. However, God promised that even when we are in the fire he will be with us.