Summary: This is an update version of this sermon that I had written several years ago.
Seven Examples of Testing
Do you recall the story of Job - how he went through many trials and tests? He was a wealthy man with many possessions - yet in a very short time he lost most of what he had. He lost his possessions, his health was gone, and his children died. Calamity after calamity fell on him. Life was miserable for him. His wife gave him the advise - "Curse God and die." Yet Job stuck it out. Our text this morning comes from the book of Job. Please follow along with me as I read:
If I go east, He is not there, and if I go west, I cannot perceive Him. When He is at work to the north, I cannot see Him; when He turns south, I cannot find Him. Yet He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold. Job 23:8-10 (HCSB)
One of the metaphors that the Bible says about life is that it is a test. God continually tests people’s character, faith, obedience, love, integrity, and loyalty. Character is both developed and revealed by testing. And the truth of the matter is – All of Life is a Test. You are always being tested. God is constantly watching how you respond to people, problems, success, conflict, illness, disappointment and even the weather. What I would like to do this morning is look at several ways God’s people have been tested. For you see trials can be:
1. A Test of Patience
Trials and tribulation can be a test of patience. The Lord has a timing for fulfilling His plans and purposes. Often His plans take much longer than we expect. In the meantime we go through severe trials and tribulations and they seem to last forever. These seasons are tests of our patience. Are we willing to wait for God’s timing? Listen to what the scripture says in James chapter 1.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
To tell you the truth - I do not really enjoy this verse. I don't it when James tells me to "count it all joy" when I am going through all kinds of trials and tribulations. In fact when I am experiencing hardships I consider it to be horrible.
But the Bible tells me that hardships and trials have a purpose - they produce patience. I sure could use more patience - but I don't really like the process of obtaining it. But I also know that God author and finisher of my life and He knows what is best for me. If He considers that I need more patience - so be it. I know that many of our lives are a test of patience because I know that many of you have gone through some very rough times. Praise God that He has been right by your side as you have walked this rough road.
You see - Job’s life was a test of patience. In fact the Bible says in book of James, “Remember the patience of Job". One of the major facts I like about Job is that he never, never turned his back on God. He questioned God, he complained to God, but he never turned his back on God. That is why we are encouraged when we are told, “Remember the patience of Job". For him life was a test of patience and for many of us - we are being tested in this way too.
Life is also:
2. A Test of Faith
Trials can be a test of our faith. Do we believe in God even in the midst of pain and suffering? Do we believe in the promises of God even when everything looks impossible? Do we trust in God even if He does not deliver us? Do we trust in God even when we do not understand His ways and working in our lives? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were tested and showed their faith.
If you recall the story - King Nebuchadnezzar had made an image out of gold and he commanded that everyone in the land was to worship the image. Yet three Jewish refused men to worship the image. They were called before the king and he asked them if it was true that they refused to worship the image. He warned them that if they did not worship the image that they would be thrown into a fiery furnace:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 (HCSB)