Passing the Test
As a teacher, I recognize tests are important:Tests in my class, standardized tests, AP exams…None are perfect, mind you. But they do assist educators in understanding where our students are and where they need to be.
But did you know that God tests us, too? And, unlike tests we humans devise, God’s tests are perfect and accurate and always necessary.
As I look back on this year, I realize it has been a series of tests. And, if I am perfectly honest, I have not done so well. I have chosen to complain when I should have chosen to rejoice. I have cried into my pillow when I should have cried out to God. I have blamed my feelings on others when I should examined myself. I have seen, in short, that I’m not nearly as “great” a Christian as I thought I was. Without the testing this year has brought, I would have continued in a self-righteous kind of mindset, blind to my faults and hyper-aware of everyone else’s.
Thankfully, God doesn’t test us simply to show us where we are failing. James 1 tells us that the “testing of our faith produces perseverance” and when that work of perseverance is finished, we become “mature, complete, not lacking anything”. Maturity, I believe, means that I can overlook insults and criticism. ‘Complete’ means I am so fully satisfied in God that no one and nothing can steal my joy. ‘Not lacking anything’ means just that – not allowing myself to dwell on the “if only’s…” but recognizing that, in Christ, I have all I need and more.
I am so thankful that God is a gracious teacher. One failing grade doesn’t mean I’m out of the class. My friend, Jennifer, is a lot like Jesus in her math classroom. When students fail a test, she calls them back and allows them to retake it, discussing the parts that they misunderstood, clearing up confusion, encouraging them that, yes, they can do math. Students are encouraged, not to simply pass a test, but to mature in their understanding of the subject so they’re better equipped to go onto the next level. I wish I had a teacher like her when I was in school!
I am grateful I have a God who is the Master Teacher, whose tests are always for my good, and who allows retakes. He isn’t testing me – or you – to punish us or make us feel unworthy. He is testing us because He wants us to be “mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Better than any diploma or degree I can imagine!
So, as I look forward to 2017, I am resolved to seek some “re-takes”, to go to extra tutoring, and to sit at the feet of my Teacher and learn from Him. I am resolved to seek maturity and rejoice “whenever [I] face trials of many kinds, because [I] know the testing of [my] faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)