DO I HAVE TO TAKE THE TEST?
Whether we like it or not, testing season is right around the corner! I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard the question, “Do we have to take the test?” I would be rich right now! Educators know testing is a necessary part of our job, but it is not always something we or the students enjoy. Granted, authentic testing sheds important light on our students’ progress. However, it also reveals our effectiveness as educators. Perhaps this is why it is so stressful. Everyone works so hard. We all want to do well (i.e., pass the test). The thought of falling short or missing the mark can become a weight on our shoulders we would rather not carry.
The same can be said for our spiritual lives. Life is full of tests, trials, and temptations. Unlike our tests in school, we don’t know the date, time, or length of the test. We just know the test is coming! Like our students, we may be tempted to ask, “Why?” Why do we have to be tested? Why do trials and temptations come? Can’t we experience Christianity apart from testing?
Let’s take a look and what Peter says.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So, when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7
I don’t know about you, but the words “must endure” popped off the page for me. Fortunately, Peter followed with “for a little while.” It is encouraging to know our trials don’t go on forever!
There is so much to unpack in these two verses. Before we do, let’s define the word trial to make sure we are all on the same page. The Greek word used here for trials is periasmois. This word can be translated as trial, temptation, or test. This is the same Greek word for testing used in James 1:12.
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James and Peter are communicating a similar message. Testing is not an option; it is something we must endure. When I think of the word endure, I often envision a struggle. It’s tough in the midst of a struggle. However, we can successfully pass our tests if we remember two truths. First, joy is coming. Peter prefaced his statement about trials with a reminder of our inheritance. Our ability to cope in the present is directly tied to our understanding of the future. We know the end of the story!
Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 1 Peter 1:4
The second reminder is just as important! Not only is joy coming, but we also know everything that passes through God’s fingers has a purpose (Romans 8:28). This takes us back to the question of “Why?” Why do we have to be tested? Luckily, Peter answered this question for us. Trials and/or tests are designed to do three things: prove our faith, develop our faith, and glorify Christ. Let’s take a quick look at each one.
Prove our Faith
As educators, we know tests are diagnostic and informative. Given these past two years, I can’t help but think of COVID testing. About three months ago, I came down with what I thought was a cold. I didn’t know it was actually COVID until I took the test. The test proved I had COVID.
Let’s apply this to our faith. How do we know our faith is strong? How do we know our faith is steadfast? Peter tells us these trials will show that your faith is genuine. Tests are opportunities for us to confirm our faith is real, to know we are his children, and to remind us no trial will ever take us down! Through trials and testing, we learn about ourselves. We discover our strengths and the areas in which we need to grow.
Develop our Faith
I love how Peter reminds us how precious our faith really is. Gold is one of the most durable of all materials. Just as gold is purified, so must our faith be developed and refined. It is only through testing we develop perseverance, which leads to maturity in our walk with God (James 1:3-4). It is only through testing we learn to trust God’s sovereignty (Job 42:2). It is only through testing our weaknesses are protected and made perfect through His power (1 Peter 1:5,2 Corinthians 12:9).
Charles Spurgeon, referred to as the prince of preachers, spoke to this truth long ago. His message is powerful.
“Indeed, it is the honor of faith to be tried. Shall any man say, ‘I have faith, but I have never had to believe under difficulties’? Who knows whether thou hast any faith? Shall a man say, ‘I have great faith in God, but I have never had to use it in anything more than the ordinary affairs of life, where I could probably have done without it as well as with it’? Is this to the honor and praise of thy faith? Dost thou think that such a faith as this will bring any great glory to God, or bring to thee any great reward? If so, thou art mightily mistaken.”
Times of testing don’t always have to be tumultuous. As our faith develops, Peter says we can love God by seeking His glory. We can trust God by obeying him, and we can rejoice in our eternal salvation (1 Peter 1:8). Even in the midst of trial, we have an opportunity to glorify Christ!
I like how the Amplified Bible translates 1 Peter 1:7.
…so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Testing and trials will end, and when they do, there is much to celebrate. Yes, the Bible says we will receive the crown of life. Yes, there will be rewards. Ultimately, however, God deserves all the praise and glory. It is only by His grace any of us survive seasons of testing!
People are watching. Everyone seems to know when we face trials and tests. How important it is for the lost to see our faith affirmed, developed, and strengthened. How important it is for them to see us glorify God for His provision and protection. We can’t keep it to ourselves!
Let’s end where we began with the age-old question: Do I have to take the test? I hope by now you are saying, “YES!” May we all desire to prove our faith, develop our faith, and glorify Christ through the tests and trials of life. Help us, Lord, to welcome the tests with great joy because there are wonderful days ahead!