“Before God can use you greatly, He must test you deeply.”
This is what caught my eye today amidst the many facebook status updates on my newsfeed. That’s the neat thing about being facebook friends with pastors and other people in ministry. In between the random updates about funny youtube videos and what people ate for breakfast, also come profound statements about God in which writers like me who are looking for inspiration will inevitably pounce on to blog about.
And today is no exception.
So okay then, enough musings about facebook and on to serious, important things. God things. So here we go.
Trials and Tests
If I’m being honest, there was a time in my life when seeing that phrase above would have made me want to punch a hole in the wall. Whether it’s battling through a kidney disease, almost drowning in a river, having to raise $30,000 in a month to fulfill work visa requirements (long story) or other challenges that come with full-time ministry, let’s just say I’m no stranger to tests.
But let’s face it, tests are no fun, and the pressure isn’t just hard to deal with, it’s also incredibly stressful. Which then of course, brings up the question, if God is almighty and powerful, why all the hardship and tests? Can’t He just snap His fingers and make everything fine and dandy? Good question indeed.
I’ve heard before that one of the trickiest things mountain climbers face is trying to figure out when they’ve reached the end. Because a lot of times, just when they think they’ve reached the top, they’ll discover it’s really just a plateau and there’s still a whole lot more mountain to climb with the peak no where in sight.
I think for all of us at some point, life certainly feels like that. We make it through a test or a project for an incredibly challenging class, share our faith with a friend or family member for the first time, and just when we think we can celebrate, something seems to come and smack us in the face and we wonder what on earth is going on?
Through It, Not Around It
Here’s the thing about trials. I think more than just a way of proving ourselves to God, I think it’s also something that God uses to show us how far we’ve come. Think about it, if tests in school prove whether we’ve learned the material well or not, then overcoming trials can most certainly indicate how far our faith and trust in God has come. I think this is why when it comes to a lot of hard things, God doesn’t promise to help us avoid them, but instead promises to take us through them. (Isaiah 43:1-3)
The reality is that being in college is a great time for trials and testing. It’s a period where we’re learning to manage our lives, balance school, clubs, friends and work, and also figure out where God is calling us to. Sometimes the tests come in the form of relationships, school or finances, other times it can be stepping up to leadership roles or sharing our faith with the person beside us.
Don’t Fear It, Embrace It
Whatever the case might be, the most important thing is for us to learn to embrace trials and tests rather than fear them. I realize that this might sound counter intuitive since most of us wouldn’t want to embrace hardship, but I do think God allows trials in our lives so that we can show others how to deal with things His way, instead of society’s way.
My point today with this is that every moment in our lives, good or bad, is an opportunity to share Christ. In my own life, I’ve found that it’s been during the battles with the kidney disease or other major issues that have most impacted other people, not because I did something incredible to make it work, but because God moved in those situations.
So semester’s about halfway over, and a lot of you might be feeling the crunch right about now. My encouragement to you is no matter what is going on, hang on to God with everything you’ve got. If you’ve only got an hour to get a dozen things done, spend part of that hour praying, and invite God to move in your life. Remember, someone’s always watching your life, and this could be the moment they see Christ shine in it.
“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.” – James 1:3
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org