Devotions

The Unexpected Test

By Mary Loudermilk
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“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.” (Proverbs 27:21, English Standard Version).

I think it is safe to say none of us will escape experiencing tough times at some point in life. John 16:33 tells us, “In the world you will have tribulation” (NKJV). It’s not if, but when. Considering this, it seems logical that our biggest test of faith comes when we face a serious trial. But let me ask a question. When do we pray most relentlessly—during the good times or the bad times? The situation may test our faith, but we come out on the other side reaffirming we have a powerful God who loves us without measure.

The Test of Success

While it may seem counter to logical thinking, is it possible that our greatest test comes during the “good times” when life flows smoothly and people speak well of us? At such times, it is easy to think life is good because we did so well. We pat ourselves on the back and smile about what we have accomplished. Watch out! We are getting into dangerous territory.

Have you ever stumbled and fallen? I have, and it’s humiliating. I merrily walking along, taking no thought about my steps. My mind is caught up in the day’s plans, then oops . . . down I go. I missed seeing that hole or rock in my way. “Good times,” what we often call success, can lead to pride. And pride can quickly lead to our downfall. We aren’t watching our step. We are too caught up in our success to see it can trip us. Proverbs 16:18 warns, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

The more “we” thoughts we entertain, the less we recognize our blessings really come from the Lord. When life is good, we spend less time on our face seeking God’s guidance and help.  We don’t need His help—or at least we don’t think so.

The Refining Process

All of us enjoy the times things go smoothly much more than the times of testing and trouble. Yet, God uses those difficult times to test our faith, our obedience, and our dependence on Him. It is His refining process. I’m not saying we should never enjoy the good times, the happy times in life. I am saying we must keep God at the center of it all. Enjoy the blessings but give God the credit He deserves. He deserves the praise, not us.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17, CSV).

Prayer: Lord, help me to be equally thankful for the good times and the bad. You are using both to shape me into Your image. Keep me from pride and thoughts of what I have accomplished. Every blessing, every success, that comes my way is from You. Only You!

 

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Mary enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and spending time with old friends. Although directionally challenged, she would rather take the back roads with their discoveries than the boredom of the interstate.

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