The words test, temptation, and trial are often confused with each other.
A test is something God purposefully causes in a believer’s life to expose something good or bad and to increase that person’s sanctification and reward in the Lord (James 1:12).
A temptation is something God never causes. A temptation is when someone is enticed to sin (James 1:13).
And a trial is something difficult in life that can involve either tests or temptations. A trial is usually caused by living on a broken planet that has many bad things on it that were created because of the fall of man due to sin (James 1:2-4).
So in this article, I’m specifically referring to tests from God. Here are 4 common ways God tests us.
1. God Will Test You By Making You Wait
Endurance is always one of the clearest marks of a true Christian (James 1:12). Many people claim Christ and even seem to live for Christ for a period of time. But oftentimes people fall away and prove themselves to never have actually been saved to begin with (1 John 2:19). Only after we endure to the end will the final evidence of our salvation be revealed.
While this principle is extremely relevant in regards to our salvation, this principle can also be applied to other areas of our lives. Just as God tests our salvation through making us wait and endure, so too will God test us in other areas of life. Will you wait for a godly spouse or will you date unbelievers? Will you wait to find success in your career through working hard and being moral, or will you try to cut corners and cheat your way ahead like the rest of the world? Will you keep praying for that good desire God has put on your heart, or will you grow bitter and lose your faith in God? As Hebrews 10:36-39 explains:
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised . . . But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
2. God Will Test You By Not Giving You What You Want
Perhaps the quickest way to find someone’s true intentions is by telling them no. When a man just wants sex and a woman gives him a firm no, he will vanish faster than she can say goodbye. When a woman is just looking for a rebound relationship until she feels better about herself but the man says no, she will find another rebound faster than she found this first guy.
The point is, when someone has an unhealthy agenda and that agenda is not going to be met in the timeline they have set for everyone else, they will get mad or just leave when they get any type of no from you.
This is often why God says no to us. He knows when we are truly after him compared to when we are just after the stuff he can give us. When we are seeking to please God so God will give us some other blessing, it’s not God we are really trying to please – it’s ourselves.
In kindness God will say no to us sometimes so we can become more aware of our deeper needs that he wants to say yes to – namely himself (Psalm 27:4).
3. God Will Test You By Giving You Exactly What You Want
A test isn’t really for God’s benefit. He already knows what is in our hearts and how we will respond. Rather, God puts us through tests to show us what is in our hearts.
This is what happened to Israel when they wanted a king. God knew this would not be good for them, but the people just wouldn’t let it go. So God gave them a king to show them why he didn’t want to give them a king (1 Samuel 8).
Sometimes the scariest thing that can happen to you is when God gives you exactly what you want from him. If you have been begging God for something he knows is not good for you but you are unwilling to listen, sometimes he will give you this thing and put you through a test to show you why he didn’t want to give it to you in the first place.
Certainly God often gives us things because he knows they will be good for us. So I’m not saying God’s motive is always to give us things to show us they are not good for us. We shouldn’t be scared of receiving good things from God. Rather, we just need to be careful we are not being stubborn in asking for things we know God is trying to protect us from.
And when God does give us something good, we need to be careful we keep God first in our hearts and that we enjoy this blessing as a gift from him rather than letting it become more important to us than God himself (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
4. God Will Test You By Refusing to Be Tested By You
God tests us. We are never to test God. So often we say things like, “God, if you are real, show yourself right now in a way that I know for certain this is you.” Or, “God, if you want me to take a risk and date this person, show me the future and let me know if we will get married one day.” Or, “God, I want to believe in your goodness but I just can’t understand why you would save some and send others to hell.”
Whether your question be personal or theological, God will not be put to the test. He invites us to humbly ask for wisdom and insight; but if we are giving God an ultimatum, we are actually failing God’s test for us.
Will you believe and trust in God even if he doesn’t pass your test? Will you look at the signs he is sending instead of demanding him to send you the signs you think you need (Matthew 16:1-4)? Those who pass God’s test are the ones who are willing to follow God even when he isn’t doing exactly what they want him to do.
When Jesus appeared to Thomas after Thomas refused to believe Jesus was risen based on the evidence provided to him, Jesus said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
If you want God’s blessing, you must choose to still believe even when he doesn’t do exactly what you want him to do.
Here are 3 signs God is testing you.