That's the only way to describe it. As a high school senior facing finals week, I anxiously waited outside of my Biology classroom for my turn to take a comprehensive, hands-on, semester-encompassing final. Only four items awaited us in that classroom: a dissected cat reeking of formaldehyde (and smelling to high heaven, if I might add), a microscope, one chair, and the teacher.
I had not studied well. Temptations of parties and time with friends had prevailed. I was scraping a C in the class and this final did not inspire any hope of improving it. In fact, failing the entire semester all together seemed a very real possibility. I was in over my head.
The moment of truth was at hand. In my young mind, the ramifications of failing were epic. Test day had arrived and I was ill prepared. Thoughts such as, "Why didn't I prepare better?" and "What was I thinking?" reverberated in my head. I was now having to face the consequences of my fall into temptation.
Been there? King David had. Not in a school classroom, but in the classroom of life. God's test of David's faithfulness had arrived. On a lazy afternoon when King David should have been on the road with the Israelite army, he was looking down from his palace rooftop transfixed by a beautiful woman taking a bath (2 Sam. 11).
The moment of truth was at hand. David was in over his head. Only after adultery, murder, and epic failure did David ask himself, "What was I thinking?" He now had to face the consequences of his fall into temptation.
When God tests our faith, it's not a stroll through daisy-filled meadows. They are hard. They hurt. Sometimes they hurt others. Think of the last time when God tested you. It probably wasn't as innocuous as a school test. Perhaps it was a test of accounting integrity. Spreading gossip. Marital faithfulness.
Even though God's testing may be hard, we are assured that He has a specific purpose in mind. He's preparing us for a future battle. A future victory. A leap in ministry. An overwhelming blessing long sought after. A strong faith only becomes strong through the fires of adversity and trial.
David, the man after God's own heart, learned that God tests us. But he also learned to ask God to continue testing him (Psalm 139). He knew that tests reveal parts of us that have never seen the light of day. The secret longings and desires deeply imbedded in our hearts. David was resolved to continue asking God to reveal his own darkness to expose it to God's healing, transforming light.
The next time you feel God testing you, remember there's a reason for it. And when all is said and done, we learn something about ourselves. Our friends. Our family. And most of all, God.
When we enter His divine classroom, we know He is determined to teach us. He doesn't get a kick out of watching us fail. He wants us to learn and grow in faith, love, and trust in Him.
Passing a particular test of faith may take many attempts on our part. God lovingly and meticulously guides us, encourages us, and ensures us that in His strength, we'll pass one day with flying colors.