There are times of testing that God sometimes initiates and sometimes allows. Not all that happens to us is God initiated though. Job’s test was satanically initiated but God allowed it for His glory and purposes (Job 1:9-12). Then there was the time when Abraham was tested to see how far he had come in his walk with God:
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied (Genesis 22:1).
Of course, God knows our hearts; the problem is our side, we often don’t know what’s in our own hearts. The Lord says that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, (Jeremiah 17:9). The test of God is designed for us to see ourselves, how far short we fall from His standard—Jesus Christ. I see at least two purposes that God has in the test. If you are a Christian, God is at work in you to sanctify you and make you more like Jesus in your character. If you are not yet a Christian, you may be in a trial or a test that is designed or allowed by the Creator of the universe to bring you to a place where you may realize your need of Him. God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (James 4:6). While a man or woman seeks to be right with God by His own accomplishments or goodness he will find that inner peace will elude him. But if a man recognizes his own spiritual bankruptcy before a holy God, he will find favor with God.
17My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17).
This was written not just for the Jewish people; no, this is for all men and women everywhere. When you come to God with a heart of need—a broken, contrite (affected by guilt and remorse) heart, then the test or trial that you have gone through has done its work. What you have perhaps gone through has been very dark, but God is working on you for an eternal benefit. This life is not just for here. We are eternal creatures, created for much more than this world. There will come a time when you will see the eternal benefit of what you have gone through, as long as you repent, believe the gospel, and put your trust in Him.
Have you ever read of the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis? (Chapters 37-50). This young man of around seventeen years of age was thrust into a test, which he was unaware of, but through the difficulties that he went through, certain gifts arose in him that was greatly used for the salvation of his family in the midst of famine. Ahead of the famine, God planned to work in the heart of Joseph to train him through building his character that he might endure political office alongside Pharaoh, that, when the time was right, Joseph would bring deliverance to all his family. You may be in a test and are unaware of it. Character is formed in a test. With Joseph, the dark time of testing and trial was training him for his promotion. If we come through the test with our character intact, we can be given and trusted with more. When you pass the character test, God knows that you will not compromise your faith in Him and can be used to a greater degree. Are you going through a trial at the moment? Is it a test of the Lord? If it is, don’t compromise! Hang on to Him in the midst of the darkness—light will come and you will hear Him one day say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” That means everything to the true child of God.