Continued from here.
I started noticing in 2015 how God tests us. I would find myself in a situation, not handle it very well, and then find myself in similar circumstances a few months later. Once I realized that these were tests, I started reflecting after the crisis about how I could have handled the situation better. Then, when the test rolled around again, I would try to apply what I learned so I could (hopefully) pass the test and not have to go through it again.
For example, when my then-14-year-old son was bullied in 2015, I did not take it well. I knew from past experience that I must forgive the bullies, but I did not know how to actually going about doing that while the bullies were still hurting my child. A Christian friend advised me to pray for the bullies, even while they continued to hurt my son.
Let me tell you – that was hard to do! I wanted God to smite them, not bless them. Nevertheless, I knew she was right, so I got on my knees and started praying for them, just as I had done for my past abusers. Over time, my anger toward the bullies subsided.
Fast forward to July 2016 … As I was pulling out of the driveway to take my son to the hospital for major surgery, we discovered that someone had vandalized my husband’s truck. This time, I knew exactly what to do. As I drove toward the hospital, I prayed for the truck vandals. I refused to allow someone else’s evil actions to hijack my emotions – I already had enough to deal with as I drove my son to the hospital. Because I had learned the lesson that God was teaching me, I passed the test this time around.
A Christian friend pointed out that God’s way of testing is different from man’s. We teach students a concept, they study, and then we test them on what they learned. That’s not how God does it, though. God gives us a concept (such as bless those who persecute you) and then places us in a situation to be tested, such as by allowing my son to be bullied or our truck to be vandalized. God allows us to be placed in that situation again and again until we pass the test, so we are wise after a test to reflect upon how God says to handle particular situations. As Joyce Meyer points out, we never “fail” God’s tests – we just keep retaking them until we pass them.
[Graphic: Photograph of Grace’s vandalized truck. Courtesy Grace Daniels.]