A TESTING PROCESS
Since God is Spirit, we may, at times, find it difficult to fathom Him fully. If, in addition, we do not have any real encounters with Him, we will easily start to think of God as only a form of knowledge. This is especially so when life is smooth and relaxed. During those times, life becomes very much entangled with materialism and worldly entertainment. Such an existence creates a distance between God and us. We know about God but, in reality, do not give substance to that knowledge. If we remain in such a situation for a prolonged period of time, we will lose sight of God altogether.
We must be brought back to our senses and perceive God in a real sense through trials. The Exodus Generation, who wandered forty years in the wilderness, is a notable example. Their suffering was designed to help them know who the Lord God really was (Deut 29:4–6). It not only revealed to the people what God had provided for them in their daily lives, but also reminded them of His constant care. For forty years, their sandals and clothes did not wear out, and, although there were countless occasions where grave dangers arose in their lives, God never failed to aid them.
When we live a life of ease, we become undisciplined in keeping the word of God. Suffering, however, increases our willingness to abide by the truth. The Exodus Generation’s wandering in the wilderness was intended to test their hearts and to find out if they would keep the commandments or not (Deut 8:2–3). Similarly, we do not truly know whether we can resolve to follow the Lord unless we are put to the test in tribulations. Such testing also helps us to understand ourselves deeper and provide a better idea of what we need to improve.
Although testing is never pleasant, the benefits it produces are tremendous. These benefits include establishing a healthy relationship with the Lord and remembering His providence and grace. Suffering will erase the desire to drift away from the Lord and follow idols, visible or invisible. We will realize that everything comes from the Lord, our provider. It will spark our resolve to honor God wherever we are (Deut 8:16–18). Without suffering, our talents and strength would prove too big an obstacle to overcome, hindering us from remaining faithful to God.
[To be continued...]