Doug Creamer column: Is God testing us?
By Doug Creamer
I taught school for 34 years, and for the last couple of years I have been teaching Chinese students online. I love being a teacher and having the opportunity to help people learn something new. Sometimes I use props to get my point across. Often, I tell stories; I love to tell stories. I will spend hours working on a Sunday school lesson or a sermon, trying to figure out the best way to get my points across.
One of the things I learned early on is that it is important to test your students in the learning process. If you don’t hold your students accountable, they will not apply themselves to learn. Students have asked me hundreds of times, “Is this on the test?” before they “wasted” their time taking notes.
Testing occurs in every classroom to ensure that students are learning. Most students take the routine tests to the best of their ability. For the teacher, it is a barometer to determine if the students really learned the curriculum. I strongly believe that tests can be more than just paper and pencil; they can also be the application of the skills acquired. I wanted my students to demonstrate what they had learned through projects and presentations.
Most students performed very well on the projects and presentations. What bothered me the most was when students gave no effort during final exams. One smart student explained the 50 she earned by telling me that she only answered every other question. She said she didn’t care what she earned because she was going to pass my class, regardless. I gave another student the answer sheet and by the time I came back around to give him his test booklet, he handed me his answer sheet completely filled out. I was frustrated beyond belief.
Testing is a part of all of our lives, whether we like it or not. I imagine the worst kind of testing is when the doctor sends us for tests and we have to wait for the results. Many jobs today require additional training and testing to maintain and keep a job. I prefer not to face any more tests. The trouble is that God is in the testing business, too.
The Bible tells us in 1st Corinthians that we all face common temptations. Being tempted is a test! Sometimes I pass them and walk away, other times I fall flat on my face. But the important thing that 1st Corinthians teaches us is that God always provides a way to pass the test. God is on our side and rooting for us. That’s good news! I just need to learn to cooperate with him.
Temptations don’t come from God because he cannot be tempted with evil and won’t tempt us with evil. So does God test us? Yes, he really does test us. He wants to see if the character of Jesus is growing within us. He wants us to see for ourselves that we are really getting stronger.
Are there people in the Bible who were tested? Yes. Abraham was tested when he was told to sacrifice his son Isaac. He passed. David was given two opportunities to kill King Saul and take the throne. David did not believe in killing God’s anointed leader. David passed his tests. Joseph, Jacob’s son, was tested many times. He passed his tests and was instrumental in saving not only the people of Israel, but also the Egyptians. Peter wasn’t so lucky. He failed his test in denying that he knew Jesus. But Jesus tenderly restored him after he rose from the dead, and Peter was instrumental in spreading the gospel on the day of Pentecost and beyond.
What I like about Peter’s story is that Jesus was there to help him back onto his feet and to restore him. We have all failed God in many ways and there is nothing we can do to fix it. Jesus went to the cross to fix all the things that were impossible for us to fix. Through Jesus we now have a right standing with God and access to the resurrection power to live a better life.
I want to encourage you if you feel discouraged because you have failed God. We are broken people and God knew we were going to fail. That’s why he provided a way for us to be restored to him in good standing. It is a free gift, but we have to accept it. I don’t like tests, but I do like knowing that God is on my side, cheering for me to succeed.
Contact Doug Creamer at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041 or email@example.com.