The School of Faith

In the “School of Faith” we must have occasional tests, or we will never know where we are spiritually. Abraham had his share of tests right from the beginning. First was the “family test,” when he had to leave his loved ones and step out by faith to go to a new land (11:27–12:5). This was followed by the “famine test,” which Abraham failed because he doubted God and went down to Egypt for help (12:10–13:4).

Once back in the land, Abraham passed the “fellowship test” when he gave Lot first choice in using the pastureland (13:5–18). He also passed the “fight test” when he defeated the kings (14:1–16) and the “fortune test” when he said no to Sodom’s wealth (14:17–24). But he failed the “fatherhood test” when Sarah got impatient with God and suggested that Abraham have a child by Hagar (Gen. 16). When the time came to send Ishmael away, Abraham passed the “farewell test” even though it broke his heart (21:14–21).

Not every difficult experience in life is necessarily a personal test from God. (Of course, any experience could become a test or a temptation, depending on how we deal with it. See James 1:12–16.) Sometimes our own disobedience causes the pain or disappointment, as when Abraham went to Egypt (Gen. 12:10ff) and to Gerar (Gen. 20). Sometimes our hurts are simply a part of normal human life: As we grow older, friends and loved ones relocate or even die, life changes around us, and we must make painful adjustments.

Learn to distinguish between trials and temptations. Temptations come from our desires within us (James 1:12–16) while trials come from the Lord who has a special purpose to fulfill. Temptations are used by the devil to bring out the worst in us, but trials are used by the Holy Spirit to bring out the best in us (1:1–6). Temptations seem logical while trials seem very unreasonable. Why would God give Abraham a son and then ask Abraham to kill him?

All believers face similar temptations to sin (1 Cor. 10:13), but not all believers experience the same trials of faith. God’s testings are tailor-made for each child of God, and each experience is unique. God never asked Lot to face the tests that Abraham faced. Why? Because Lot was being tempted by the world and the flesh and never grew to the place of maturity that Abraham reached. In one sense, it is a compliment when God sends us a test; it shows God wants to “promote us” in the “School of Faith.” God never sends a test until He knows you are ready for it.
“Life is difficult,” wrote psychiatrist M. Scott Peck. “Once we truly know that life is difficult—once we truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer difficult” (The Road Less Traveled, p. 15). That is the first lesson we must learn: Expect trials from God, because the Christian life is not easy.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

%d bloggers like this: