Summary: Looks at how God tests us and how we can pass them.
Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over.
The problems began when Chippie’s owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She’d barely said "hello" when "ssssopp!" Chippie got sucked in.
The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie -- still alive, but stunned.
Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.
Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.
A few days after the trauma, the reporter who’d initially written about the event contacted Chippie’s owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore -- he just sits and stares."
I want us to look at how God tests us and how we pass the test. Seen that God tested Abraham – God never wanted any harm to come to Isaac. Abraham wasn’t to know this since the bible not yet written with its clear hatred of child sacrifice. To Abraham it might seem plausible that God might require this with his pagan background. Seen some of the reasons for this test: to test the genuineness of our faith, develop strength and perseverance, to refine our faith and to draw us closer to God. God always has a good purpose in the test he gives us. They are not frivolous, though we may not understand the reason for them at the time or sometimes later. Martin Luther King said “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy.”
1. How does God test us?
There are as many ways God can test us, as there are people. It could be a test in our family; at work we may face an extreme pressure. It may be sickness, suffering, financial struggles, family problems, bereavement. The list goes on. From Abraham’s experience and that of others like Job we can note 2 things about the tests we go through:
Usually the test will come in the area where we are most vulnerable – often that which is most precious to us is challenged e.g. Isaac.
Our faith is not really tested until God asks us to bear what seems unbearable, do what seems unreasonable, and expect what seems impossible. God may take us to the brink of what we think we can bear. It seems that God tests us by taking us to the end of ourselves – then we have to rely on God.
Abraham was tested in a number of areas that we may also be tested in too:
Love – The tests we experience can reveal whom or what we love most in our lives. Tests reveal the depth of our love to God. This was certainly so with Abraham.
Faith – Abraham’s faith was obviously tested. Would he believe in the promises of God even when everything looked impossible? Do we trust in God even when we do not understand His ways and workings in our lives?
Obedience – Are we willing to obey God even when He commands us to do what we do not like or what we wish to avoid? Did Abraham want to avoid this? I bet he did. God tests our obedience.
Sacrifice – What are we prepared to give up for God? Are we willing to sacrifice everything for the Lord? Abraham had to lie what he loved most on the altar – this is one I have always struggled with. Sometimes the Lord leads us to the point of total surrender by bringing us to the place where we have to lay something on the altar.
Endurance – What are we willing to go through for the Lord? Will we give up easily from following the Lord? Abraham showed he was no quitter. The Lord wants us to be strong in our commitment to follow Him. Trials show whether we are quitters or not.
2. How do we pass the test?
Remember the promise - To pass the test we need to remember what God has promised. If the problem is financial or the need is of another kind, we need to remember that God has promised to supply all our need (Phil.4:19). If we are going through a time of suffering, heartache or difficulty then we need to remember that God has promised that he will work all things together for good. (Rom 8.28), that he will never leave us (Heb. 13:5). That God has a great plan for all of our lives however long or short. As Abraham led Isaac to the place of sacrifice he was undoubtedly remembering God’s promise made years earlier of a son who would inherit the blessings. From our experience with Liz we have had to hold on to the promise that God is in control and will work all things together for good.