The normal response to three guys getting threatened with the fiery furnace if they don’t bow down is to submit on the outside but stand up on the inside. They said instead, “We’ll take the furnace.”
The normal response to getting beaten up with rods and thrown into prison with feet in stocks would be to complain about the miserable situation and cry out why. Paul leaned over to Silas and asked, “Hey, do you know any good worship choruses?”
The normal response to being commanded to offer up your only son in a sacrifice on an altar would be to say, “God gave me this son. He really doesn’t want me to do such a thing.” Abraham did it, confident that God would raise his son from the dead.
The normal response to being thrown in prison is to say, “I guess no more preaching for me.” Paul instead said, “What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. It has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (Phil.1:12,13).
The normal response to being told that if you prayed to anyone but the king you would be thrown into a den of lions would be to pray quietly and in secret. Daniel prayed like he always did in his upper chamber with his windows open toward Jerusalem.
The normal response to finding no water in a huge desert would be to complain. That is just what the Israelites did, and to such an extent that God said, “You’re not going into the promised land.” Instead of passing their tests, they tested God ten times (Nu. 14:22).
The normal response to heading for the dump with your car and trailer and to start losing things out of the back of the trailer, then to blow a radiator hose, then have the car heat up and die on you on a public thoroughfare and block traffic during afternoon rush hour for two and a half hours while you wait and wait for Triple A to show up is to get discouraged and wonder what is happening. Instead, I prayed, “If this is a test, I want you to know, Father, that it is an easy test and I plan to pass it.” I would much rather be a victor than a victim. Wouldn’t you?!
9 TRUTHS ABOUT TESTS
1 EVERYONE GETS TESTED–FREQUENTLY.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when…” (Js. 1:2), not if.
“Resist him…knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (I Peter 5:9). “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (I Cor. 10:13). “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (I Peter 4:12).
Don’t say, “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” and play the victim role. Tests happen all the time. And unlike teachers who give tests, God does not usually announce the test in advance, so we can get ready for it. We need a mindset that is ready to be tested.
2 TESTS REVEAL THE ATTITUDE OF OUR HEART. Can you count it all joy, or are you going to complain about it? Joy says you trust God to use it in your life. You look past the pain to the purpose. And you count it joy when you face trials, not when you finish them, at the outset, not when you are finished. (More to come)