“I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.”
1 Chronicles 29:17
“Yet you know me, O Lord; You see me and test my thoughts about You.”
“Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says:
“See, I will refine and test them,
For what else can I do because of the sin of my people?”
If you watch the news, you probably heard this morning about the five year old daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman(contemporary Christian music artist) being killed by one of her older brothers in a tragic accident. This story brought me to tears realizing the heartache and pain that this family is dealing with right now but praise the Lord we know where they will find their hope. I thought about how God will cover them with His love, peace and comfort and how they will experience His strength in a way that none of us will ever understand because they have chosen to trust Him with their lives. This led me to thinking about those in my own life right now who are dealing with some hard stuff, none that could ever compare to the death of a child, but still stuff that causes hurt and pain in our lives. We think that when we are in the middle of a storm, that there could be no worse place than where we are at that precise moment. We become consumed with our emotions and our own selfish hurts that we lose focus of what truth looks like and why the actual storm appeared. It led me to look at the prophet Habakkuk who lived in such a time of distress. He was surrounded by wickedness and became frustrated questioning God with “Where are you in all of this?”. Where do we find ourselves when we’re in the midst of a storm? Do we find ourselves questioning where God has gone? Have you ever thought that the storm you are in may be a testing of your faith or perhaps it is discipline for disobedience? I thought about the three verses I listed above and the areas in which God will test us.
- He will test our heart and the attitude of our heart in order to instruct us to be honest, teachable, generous and joyful just as He designed us to be. He wants us to have an attitude and behavior that demonstrates integrity and truthfulness. (1 Chronicles 29:17)
- He will test our thoughts to see what our attitude is toward Him. Do we really trust Him to be faithful in all our circumstances? (Jeremiah 12:3)
- He will test us because of our sin. When we rebel against Him, we are refusing to obey and trust Him and so in order to bring us back into His grace because of our sin, we must experience His discipline. (Jeremiah 9:7)
When we enter into a time of testing, it is imperative that we seek after the truth of our circumstances. We must evaluate the attitudes of our heart and the choices we are making. Are we walking along side of Him or are we choosing to go our own way. The Israelites wandered for 40 years because they chose to put their trust in themselves instead of God. They chose disobedience instead of putting their faith in Him. They felt they could do it on their own and do it better than what God had planned. When those trials come into our life, we have to make a choice. We have to choose whether we will rely on ourselves or turn to God for His strength. All we have to do is ask for His guidance and He will begin to reveal those issues in our lives that are leading us right into the middle of a storm, a storm that we have created all on our own due to our lack of faith, trust and obedience. God provides for our every need and it may not always be what we planned but He has already been down that road and prepared the way for us and so He knows exactly what we need.
If you have found yourself in the middle of being tested, you must be aware of the choices that are laid out before you. Whether it is wealth, friends, family, neighbors or your own understanding, you will always come up disappointed with the result. When we find ourselves in the thick of the storm, our only refuge is the Lord. He cares for those who trust in Him (Na 1:7) and those that trust in Him will be filled with joy, peace and hope (Ro 15:13). He is the only True Way to find our way out of the storm.
“To become tenderhearted, insightful and responsive to the Lord and others, we must first wade through out [own] losses. That means a willingness to feel the effects of our loss, to examine our hearts under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, to release tears and to relinquish our rights to understand. In doing so, we will feel the pain, but we’ll learn appropriate ways to express it. Sometimes it will be through the healing release of tears, prayer, some form of art, or words (spoken or written).”