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.