Weekday Devotionals

Into the Wilderness by Raquel Simmons

The Test

Why does God allow testing? Where is God during the testing? How can I pass the test?

It is easy to worship God when things are going great in our life. When our family is healthy, when money is good, and everything is running smoothly according to our plans. But what happens when things get difficult? When we are blindsided by pain and tragedy. When we lose a job, a child goes astray, our mental health is struggling, or a loved one dies unexpectedly? If God is good, why does he allow bad things to happen?

In Exodus, we read that “When Pharaoh finally let the people go… God led them through a roundabout way through the wilderness...” Why? “…because if the people are faced with a battle they might change their mind and return to Egypt.” Exodus 13:17-18. Why does God allow adversity in our lives? It is for us to see what’s really in our hearts. I have heard Pastor Pete say several times, “what comes out of the jelly donut when it’s squeezed?” What came out of the Israelites when they were “squeezed” was complaining, disregard for what God had already done, and doubting what He could still do for them. So much so that they took matters into their own hands by melting down gold to create an idol of a false god for them to worship. “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” Exodus 32:4. One moment, praise and hallelujah to God when everything was good. The next moment, doubting and renouncing God when things were bad. I must be honest with myself and admit that I am tempted to do the same when my life gets messy.

In the book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren wisely writes, “The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving Him when He seems distant.” I think back to when I was in school. During a test, it was always so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Sometimes when I am enduring a “life test,” I experience this same quiet. Silence. I don’t hear anything. God, where are you? I don’t feel you. I pray, worship through song, go to church, read my Bible every day. But then God is silent. I’ve heard this silence, this sense of abandonment, referred to as “the dark night of the soul.” Most of us have been there, maybe more than once. Where are you God if I don’t feel you? God did not promise that we will always feel his presence, but he did promise that he will “never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8. In the Bible, we read about how Job lost everything and he could not feel God’s presence in his life. Job says, “I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him. But he knows where I am going.” God never abandoned Job. God never abandoned David. He will never abandon us. Will we keep trusting, worshiping, and obeying even when we don’t feel God or see visible evidence of him at work?

So, how do we pass the test? How do we persevere when we feel like giving up? We simply don’t give up. “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” John 15:4. We pursue God even harder. We praise Him louder, even when we can’t catch our breath. We proclaim His goodness more, even if it’s behind tear filled eyes. We lean in to God, our Father and our closest friend, and trust him even when we don’t know what is to come. Psalm 25:14 says, “The Lord confides (whispers to a friend) in those who fear Him; He makes His covenant known to them.” I have experienced this “dark night of the soul” once or twice before. For me, it has consisted of a long period of silence from God followed by a simple, gentle whisper. You can only hear a whisper when it’s quiet. And with that whisper came healing for my soul. He knows us. He is with us. He will never leave us. We can trust Him.

Thank you, Lord for the testing. For that is when our faith grows.

-Raquel Simmons




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