“This is a test of the emergency broadcast signal – this is only a test.” Throughout our lifetimes, how many times have we heard this message come across our radios, televisions and now our cell phones? This is only a test. If it was a real emergency, instructions would follow. I think I would freak out a little if the message came through with a real message of danger.
However, we all receive those messages daily – sometimes they are not heeded and destruction comes when we least expect it. But God does warn us before danger happens through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. However, most of the time, we ignore the warning signs. We think all is well because the message isn’t loud enough to get through all the white noise that bombards us on a daily basis.
In the past, I have written many words about God sending tests to help build our character. It’s a matter if we have learned anything through those tests. In the Scripture from James, we are told to consider those trials (or tests) with pure joy (James 1:2) because it produces perseverance. Once we complete the trial or test, we will be made more mature – our faith will lack nothing (my paraphrase of James 1:2-4).
In one of my quiet times this week, I was taken aback when I read Mark 5:13. The Scripture is found in the story of Jesus confronting the man with many demons. When the man approached Jesus, the demons begged Jesus not to destroy them but let them go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission to go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission. Does that jolt you a bit as it did me? It reminded me of the passage where Jesus told Peter, Satan asked to sift him. It also reminded me of the Book of Job. Satan came to God about Job. God allowed Job and Peter to be sifted. God gave Satan permission. And I think He still does so today.
Nothing comes to us unless it goes through God first. Sometimes our trials are a sifting trial. God has allowed them for a purpose. God is all about building our character. These trials come to remove those things that are harmful to our character or His purpose for us. God never promised to remove trials but to walk with us through those valleys. Sometimes His mercy grants us a quick trial. Sometimes a more lasting one is needed to deepen our faith or weed out the impurities in us. God always has a plan. God always loves us. Even in times when the trials feel like punishment, God’s love is there. No matter what, we can trust God has the best in mind for us. Even in the trials. Count it as joy – God is there with us.
The questions come though “Why Lord? or How long?” We may never get our answers to why or how long the trial will last. However, we can know God is good all the time – even if the trial seems to last forever. Even if God doesn’t deliver us, we can still know God is good and has the best in mind for us. He has a plan. Sometimes we won’t know why we have to go through the trial or why we have the set back. We just have to accept the fact, God has allowed it for our benefit and His purpose. The Scripture verse in James 1:5 said we could ask God for understanding. So if we want to learn from our trials, we can ask for understanding – not necessarily why but what can we learn from it.
Hindsight usually gives us a better view of what we’ve been through. Hindsight usually is a good way to see God’s hand in it. God’s ways are different from ours – thank God! I am glad He knows everything and sees everything. Think about it. If He wasn’t sovereign or didn’t know how things would turn out, wouldn’t that be a hopeless feeling?
We can question where God is in the process, but never forget He is in control and His mercy is great. Trust Him in the process and believe the way will be made clear. If God sends warnings, we have to be able to hear them so that we can change course. This is only a test but it could prove to be the most important one we face for our eternal future. Listen to the voice of wisdom and heed what the voice says. This may be only a test, but what we learn is of great importance.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:1, 13-14