Assuming that it was a good year overall, I answer, “I’m feeling fine.”
But that’s not the end of my appointment. The doctor doesn’t take my word for it and send me home. Instead, he begins a process of prodding and poking to see whether or not I am as fine as I say that I feel.
Of all of the things that my doctor does, the thing that I despise the most is the stress test. He attaches electronic probes all over my body. Then he sticks me on a treadmill. Next, he makes the treadmill go faster and faster up an incline because what he wants to know is the real condition of my heart.
My heart might feel fine to me but at the same time, it might not be fine. The doctor can only determine the strength of my heart when he measures it under stress. So what he does is create a stressful situation where I’m walking for a long period of time, huffing and puffing, climbing a hill that never seems to end. He’s testing my heart to see whether how I feel is how I really am. Because it’s possible to have good feelings yet still have a bad heart.
Living the Christian life is no different. It’s possible to come to church every week, sing worship songs, memorize Bible verses, serve on a variety of committees, and assume that your heart, faith, and soul are strong. It’s even easy to say things like, “I love you God. God, you are so good. I’ll follow you, God. I’ll do whatever you say.”
But God doesn’t want to just take your word for it.
He tests you, and me, because He wants what is best for us. He tests us because He is getting ready to do something amazing in our lives. The way that He tests us is by putting us in a stressful scenario. God puts us on a treadmill. He designs a unique treadmill test to measure and reveal the real condition of our souls.
Of course, no one likes a trial. No one wakes up in the morning, stretches, and says, “Ah, what a beautiful day for a trial! I think I’d like to have a trial today!” That would be an unusual person who would do something like that. Yet, no matter how much we want to avoid trials in our lives, trials are inevitable. No one is immune to trials.
Trials are adverse circumstances that God allows in our lives to both identify where we are spiritually as well as to prepare us for where He wants us to go. There is no escaping them. You are in a trial now, you’ve just come out of a trial, or you are getting ready to go into a trial. Trials are unavoidable realities of life.
But even though we all have to experience them, I want to remind you to take comfort in knowing that trials must first pass through God’s hands before reaching us. Nothing comes our way without first having received His divine approval. And in order to get His divine approval, there must be a divine reason for Him to approve it.
Much like the stress test my doctor puts me through every summer, God allows trials and tests in our lives in order to reveal where we are along our spiritual journey. He does this for the purpose of correcting whatever happens to be wrong, revealing whatever needs to be revealed, and strengthening whatever seems to be weak so that we might move on to what He has in store for us.
Excerpt from Tony Evans’ just-released book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Moody Publishers, © 2010.