Do you want to grow as an individual, as a leader, as a spouse or a parent? How about as a follower of Jesus? There is a sobering truth you must consider – there is no growth without stretching and there is no stretching without pain. When I was a teenager I went through a growth spurt that caused great pain in my legs. My mother feared something was wrong with me and took me to the Dr. He told her, “There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s just growing.” If you are going to grow in your character, in your business, in your spiritual walk or any area of life, you have to accept that growth requires stretching and stretching sometimes hurts.
The Bible has a word for these times of stretching – it’s called TEST. Now, I didn’t like tests when I was in school, and I definitely don’t like the test that life often brings, but tests are needful. Someone said, “We are tested, not to show our weaknesses, but to discover our strengths.”
I recently preached a sermon on Abraham and the time God tested him with the very thing (his son) he loved the most. You can watch the sermon here.
If you know the story of Abraham, at age 75, God promised him children as numerous as the stars in the heaven and sand in the sea. That’s a bunch of babies! There was one problem, Abraham and Sarah were childless. By faith, they would have to wait on God for the next 25 years before Isaac would be born.
Then after a few years, the test came.
Genesis 22: 1-2, (NIV) – Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
I’m sure Abraham was wondering what God was thinking – I know I would have been. Faith isn’t trusting God when God makes sense. Faith is trusting God whether you understand or not. God had a reason for this test as Abraham would learn and whenever you go through a test, God has a reason for that one too. Let me share a couple thoughts.
- Your Faith is made Strong through TESTS.
Satan tempts you to make you STUMBLE. God tests you to make you STRONG.
There is a big difference between temptation and tests. Don’t get them confused. Temptations are always meant to make you fall into sin or disobedience. They bring about confusion, guilt, shame and pain. Tests are different. They will challenge you. Sometimes, they will challenge you to your very core, but in the end they will be productive for you.
I know what you are probably thinking, how do times of tests strengthen my character and my faith? The answer: Test reveal who or what you LOVE, VALUE, TRUST.
God uses tests to help realign our priorities and perspective.
Abraham’s test was not what he was GIVING UP for the LORD – but what he was giving BACK to the LORD! By asking Abraham to offer up his son Isaac, the very one whom God promised that the world would be blessed through with nations of people coming from his descendants, God was helping Abraham to identify where his loyalties were.
God asked Abraham to give back the promise. To give back what he loved the most. In offering Isaac back, Abraham remembered where all his blessings came from.
When you are in a time of testing, what might God be asking you to give back?
- Maybe it is Power – control?
- Position – the place you are standing?
- Perspective – Tests are always tools to help us realign our focus.
God was not asking Abraham if he loved his son – He was asking Abraham, do you love me more than your son?
It’s all about Perspective.
Let me finish with a word of encouragement…
- God knows you have what it takes to PASS the tests.
Hebrews 11: 19 gives us insight to the faith of Abraham. It says, “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”
I can’t imagine the stress that came with such a test, but Abraham passed. He went so far as laying his son on the altar when God stopped him and said, “Now, i know that you would not withhold anything from me.”
The test was never about offering Isaac, it was always about Abraham. God didn’t want Isaac as a sacrifice, He wanted Abraham’s devotion. God knew what Abraham was made of, but God needed Abraham to know what he was made of. For Abraham to become the man who we know today as Father Abraham, he had to be tested and grow beyond what he could ever have imagined.
God always has a purpose behind the tests, even when you don’t understand. God sees your potential. What if He sends test your way simply so you can see your potential.