A personal walk with God and stuff learned on the way

Posts tagged ‘tests’

Relax, this is only a test

One certain thing about the Christian life is that it has its ups and downs. Nothing goes our way all the time, but we don’t struggle constantly either. Paul calls it abasing and abounding.

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. Philippians 4:12

Both are important to balance out life. If life were all trials, we could become discouraged, give up and not finish the race. If everything were good all the time and we always got what we wanted, we could become lazy, selfish and greedy.  Added to which, we probably wouldn’t care much about other people either.

The key to getting through the ‘abasing’ times is our attitude. Grumbling and complaining will not give us the grace we need to go through, whereas maintaining humility and trusting God opens doors for Him to work.  I have found, however, one of the important keys to go through these times successfully is to recognise what is really going on. I stop and ask myself:

“Is this a test?”

Once I have figured out that I am just being tested, it’s a lot easier to handle. It’s like when you are having a bad dream.  Sometimes you realise in the middle that you’re dreaming and after that you’re not worried any more, because you realise that it’s not real.

 

 

We have tests every day and most of them are part of every day life.  These are the petty little annoyances that get us wound up on a regular basis.  Everyone has them and everyone knows what their most frequent are. Mine usually involve people being slow when I’m in a hurry; most trips to the supermarket and any display of poor manners. Whatever your personal list includes, realising that we are being tested is the key to passing them.

We can choose our response and our attitude. We can choose what we think and not to give in to our feelings. We can choose to be patient and long-suffering. We can choose to be calm and self-controlled. This is how we pass our tests. If we fail, God will make sure we re-take it … again and again.


If we repeatedly pass our tests, however, then the thing that used to drive us mad suddenly doesn’t seem such a big deal any more, and more importantly, Satan’s power over our lives in that area becomes weaker and weaker to the point where he can’t push our buttons and use that against us.  This is all part of what it means to win our spiritual battles and defeat the enemy. So the next time you are aggravated, ask whether this is sent to test you before you choose your response.

Relax, this is only a test.

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Thou art with me

There are many parts of the Bible that are universally familiar, even to people who have never stepped inside a church or don’t consider themselves religious at all.

One of these is Psalm 23: David’s most famous psalm. It is used in funerals, it has been set to music. Everyone knows this passage of scripture as it is a source of comfort to those who feel lost and speaks of provision and protection for those who trust in God.

The part of this Psalm that speaks to me most often is verse 4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

This says to me that when we go through the valleys and trials of life, we don’t go through them on our own. Everyone has wilderness experiences in their life; times when the going is tough and we find our faith stretched to the limit; times when we have to hang on and use everything we have and know to survive. We are tested and tried and we think it will never come to an end.

However, this verse promises that at those times God is right with us in the middle of ALL of it. I used to think that in trials, God sets us off at the start of our difficulties and then goes to the other end waiting for us to come out the other side.

This would make the whole experience much like a game of pooh-sticks, when you drop a stick off a bridge into a river and then rush to the other side to watch it re-emerge – only sometimes your stick got caught under the bridge and never makes it.

God promises that He is right with us during our most difficult times of life and isn’t waiting for us to come through the trial so He can say, “Good, you made it through that one”.  He hears our prayers and provides for our needs so that we will make it though. He is our God and He is with us whether we think He is there or not, whether we can feel Him is not. We may be going through, but we are not doing it alone.
Life is not a game of pooh-sticks!

Having success over the trials of life

Everybody knows that life sometimes sucks.  Things don’t go the way we want them to and there are several typical responses to this – annoyance, anger, self-pity or even denial.

Some of these are every-day and short-lived, but sometimes you get something much more significant that lasts a long time and not only that, there never seems to be any way out of it. These could include losing a job; enduring an abusive relationship; prolonged financial hardship or a long-term or serious illness.

The natural mind will look at the circumstances and either bemoan them or, if it’s possible, try to change them. After all, we are unhappy because of what is happening to us. If only we could change our circumstances, then life would be good!

I used to have that attitude, but then I saw that I was letting my environment dictate my life. If things go well and no-one gets in my way or annoys me, then I’ll be happy, but if not, I’m going to be miserable. That put the burden of my personal well-being on everything and everyone else around me.  That isn’t maturity and certainly God had a few things to say about it too. He wants us to rely on Him to help us live above what is going on around us.

I have learned (over a period of several years) the following responses to when things happen that I don’t like.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.

This was a big one. My attitude was controlling my mood and not the events and people in my life.  Instead God wanted the following:

  • Decide not to get upset and wound-up about things, but instead pray that God gives me peace
  • I can always find something to be thankful for in the middle of the mess
  • Believe and confess that God is working to turn things around. It shows that I trust God. Complaining does the opposite
  • Repent of any sin God is pointing out and particularly any bad attitude
  • If someone is mistreating me, forgive them

Ask yourself – is this a test?

Is God testing me to see how I will respond?  If so, Satan wants me to fail and to give in to how I feel, but God to use it to show me an attitude, a response, a flaw that is in us that we don’t see otherwise.

If I pass my test, I get to move on, but if I FAIL my tests I can be ABSOLUTELY SURE that I will have to take them again… and again… and again….

We all want to be able to have a testimony we can tell people, but if you go through your test with the wrong attitude, you won’t get to the testimony, you’ll just be left with the ‘moanies’  – Joyce Meyer

Abasing and abounding

God doesn’t allow us to suffer 100% of the time, but he doesn’t give us everything our own way either. The key is to be at peace and stable no matter what is going on around us.  I pray frequently for God to help me stay peaceful when I feel like getting wound-up.

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. (Philippians 4:12)

It’s important to note that Paul had to learn how to do this. It didn’t come automatically and it probably was painful and took a while!

But above all…

The most important practice God had me learn, particularly when the trial goes on for a while is for me to ask Him, “God, what do you want to do in me through this? Never mind what is going on around me, what are YOU trying to say to me?”

This opens the way for God’s mercy and provision. He doesn’t deal harshly with us when we approach Him with an attitude of humility.

Don’t let your circumstances ruin your life.

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