i heard a great sermon yesterday about temptation. it was one of those ones where my pen was flying across the page, taking notes and writing questions!! with exclamation marks!! and then next thing you know the pastor (leyton) was answering said exclaimed question, and off went my pen again.
the gist of it was this: God does not tempt us, but He does test us, and we need to pray (as in the Lord's prayer) that those tests do not twist into temptations.
for example: a god-fearing woman places her faith in God's provision for her family, and walks in trust and joy as her husband resigns from his job and they spend the next half a year looking for work. this is quite a test. but some days, the test is twisted. and she starts to think they made a mistake. she starts to doubt God's care. she starts to doubt God. these days are hard, hard days. filled with anger and tears and fear.
but there are other days in this test. other days when she is strengthened somehow to continue to trust, and she's filled with hope and thankfulness and anticipation and peace.
and now, she (okay, it's me). now, I look back on the test of 2010 and I'm so thankful for it. so thankful that i am in my promised land, looking back at the desert, knowing that the next time i feel the sand touching my toes i will have this experience to stand on. this faithfulness to remember. and all the more reason not to fear.
so, one of my questions in my sermon notes was Why does God test us?!!
i know, it's a bit of a baby question, but sometimes i just feel frustrated with the whole idea of testing. the idea of all of life being a test makes me feel like "batten down the hatches! there's a test on the horizon and i hope we make it through!!", or, " i guess i can't be angry about this tragedy because it's somehow a test". i say poo poo. POO POO!!!!.
i don't think everything is a test.
there, i've said it.
i think there are tests, and there are trials, and there is an enemy who throws crap into our lives and rubs his hands with gleeful anticipation of our distress and distrust and downfall. i don't think my friend was assaulted as a test. i don't think a different friends sister died as a test. i think that the enemy of our lives is working diligently and verociously.
maybe there are tests within the trial, but that's a different thing.
and the "why?" answer is obvious and consistent with the what i know of my God: for my good, and His glory. to shape me more into the image of Christ, for my continual joy and for the sake of the world.
so, for those of you experiencing the test today, I pray for strength and endurance, for your growth and for a joyful hope. and for those of you in trial, I pray for an awareness of Christ's compassion, the Father's love, and the Spirit's presence. amen.