I’ve been tested before. You have too. Why are we tested in school? Because we’re tested in life. I hated tests when I was in school and I don’t look forward to the ones I face in life. Yet they continue to come and go, but for what reason? That’s what I want to know and I bet you do to.
A quick survey of Scripture and we find that in the Old Testament there are several times that God tests to uncover what is in a person’s heart (Deut. 13:3) or if his people will be obedient (Judges 3:4). In the New Testament it is revealed that testing of a follower of Christ will often reveal the will of God (Rom. 12:2) and that it produces endurance (James 1:2-3).
We probably all know from personal experience that tests and trials in life reveal where our foundations lie. When we experience struggles we either get run over and worn out or we stand strong and keep going. The difference? It probably lies somewhere in our past experiences and how we’ve weathered life’s storms. Are we the ones to run to God and rely on him or do we try to go our own way?
When we trust in God, life’s foundation grows more secure and we learn that we can totally rely on him. Something happens to us when we try facing life’s struggles alone. We grow cynical or bitter with people around us and life in general. We might even become depressed and feel that there is no hope.
Abraham faced the biggest test of his life. Although his test scores weren’t the best in life’s experiences, he continued to follow God and trust in what was ahead. Don’t get me wrong because there were many times that Abraham and his wife Sarah gave into the temptation to figure out God’s plan for their lives and to run ahead and work it out. Abraham was faced with the temptation to be afraid in one of life’s situations and lied about his relationship with his wife thereby putting her in danger. Abraham had failed plenty!
God, however continues to work through failures and weaknesses to produce his plan for Abraham’s life and eventually (actually right on time for God and way past due in the minds of Abraham and Sarah) they see God fulfill his promise of a son, Laughter, for their home.
A few years down the road and Abraham faced the greatest test of his life. He was instructed by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac to the Lord. This just seems incredible to me. Why? What? And a hundred other questions are going off in my mind and Isaac isn’t even my son. So let’s look at Abraham’s situation.
Which brings us back to Abraham’s BIG test. He had received the order from God for Laughter to die. I’m not sure what is going through Abraham’s heart. All I know is that the next day he takes off with two men, a donkey, a load of wood, and Laughter. To make things really awkward, it’s a three day trip! What kind of conversations did Abraham try to avoid along the way?
There ahead he sees their destination. Will he go through with it or turn around? He shares a note of trust and confidence with his helpers as he tells them, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” They trudge up the hill with the wood for the sacrifice on Laughter’s back and Abraham with the fire and knife.
I wonder about how confident Abraham’s steps were toward the top of the mountain? There are many things we are not told in between the lines of Scripture. It stretches us to put ourselves in this horrible position. Even when Laughter asks about the sacrifice, his father simply says, “God will provide.” Then suddenly there is the arranging of the wood, binding Laughter, and placing him on the altar. Abraham raised the knife when the angel of the Lord stops him from heaven acknowledging that Laughter’s father is capable of extreme obedience. Abraham looks up and sees a ram caught in the bushes that God provides as a substitute to offer as a sacrifice instead of Laughter.
I’m sure that Abraham laughed. He laughed that Laughter was alive. He laughed that his God had provided. And I’m sure that he and laughter laughed all the way back to that donkey to find the surprised look of the two helpers who only expected to see their boss coming back alone.
I’m not going to pretend that I know every reason that God tested Abraham in this way anymore than I understand all the BIG tests that you and I face in life. I do know that Abraham’s faith grew by leaps and bounds and that God’s plan for a nation that would one day produce the Hope of the world continued on, one test after another, and year by year.
When you follow God it is by faith for nothing else pleases him. He has designed the walk of faith to be littered with tests along the way that will reveal who you are and what he can do. Look for them, expect them, and then meet them with full reliance upon God and his plan.
I still hate facing tests but I love what God does with them. How about you?
Please leave your comments below. If you find this post meaningful in some way (or if you dread BIG tests) it may be helpful to others as well. Please use the share icon below to pass it along!