For the week of August 26, 2000 / 25 Av 5760
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17
Haftarah: Isaiah 54:11 - 55:5

Tests Are Good for Us

The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Devarim / Deuteronomy 13:3).

Who likes tests? I don't think I have ever met any one who has looked forward to tests of any kind. The Torah teaches that God tests us. In the context of this verse in Devarim, God tests us by sending false prophets to see what we will do. Will we listen to them and follow other gods, or will we remain faithful to the God of Israel?

It would help us to discover what the purpose of tests actually is. Most of us don't like tests. The way we get anxious worrying about whether we will pass or fail a test gives the impression that it is the test that causes our successes or failures. But all tests do is reveal reality. For example, if I take a math test, the results indicate how well I know that particular level of mathematics. If you fail a driver's test, then it is evident that you should not be permitted to drive.

Another common type of test is the medical test. These tests also tend to make people nervous. In fact some people will avoid these tests because of their possible negative results. But it is not like the tests produces the cancer or whatever. All the tests are supposed to do is reveal what is already there.

So when we are tested, things that are not evident become clear.

Why then would God test us? Unlike our teachers and doctors who need a way to determine certain things about us, God already knows everything.

But tests arenít for the examiner; they are for us. We are the ones who need to know the results of our tests. So often we think we possess an ability when we don't really. We may think of ourselves in a certain way, but when difficulties come we discover that we are not exactly the kind of people we thought we were.

Once we clearly see the reality based on how we have responded to a test, we can then deal with ourselves accordingly. When pressures come and we learn that we are not exactly what we thought we were, we are tempted to give up. A test may show that following God may not be as easy as we assumed. But even if we fail a test, we don't have to give up. The test may help us see that we need to make some changes, changes of mind and attitude or changes of behavior.

When we don't want to change, we often blame the test. We think that if only we weren't tested, then we would be alright, but that way of thinking denies reality.

Tests also benefit those around us. Just like my failing a driving test helps to keep you safe by preventing me from driving, so God's tests help others to see what we are really like so that others could relate to us according to reality, rather than based on externals.

Tests don't always reveal negative things of course. It is through times of testing that many come to realize that the things they aspire to and say they believe are real. How encouraging it is to come through a time of testing knowing that you have what it takes.

Maybe tests aren't so bad after all.

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