Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why God Allows Us to Be Tested

Image borrowed from the HIV foundation
God knows our hearts.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  So why does He allow us to be tested through suffering and trials? What possible need could He be fulfilling by allowing those of us who follow Him to be wounded in His service, to struggle against obstacle after obstacle simply for the ability to serve Him?

He does this because the honest truth of the matter is that while He knows our reasons for doing things with perfect clarity, too often we don't.  We do not know why we go to Mass, or what we are looking for when we say that we will serve Him. We don't know because we are good at deceiving ourselves, at telling ourselves we truly believe one thing, truly desire one thing, when the truth is that what we really want and what we really believe are very different things indeed. It is only during the trials, the hardships, the moments of suffering that we gain perfect clarity as to why we do what we do and what it is we truly want.

When our whole family deserts us, our spouse betrays us, our children won't speak to us all because we are serving Christ first, we learn how much we love God and how much we are willing to do for His sake.  We learn what it is that we truly value in life, and find our short comings.  In this moment, we may find that we value human affirmation so much we are willing to sacrifice God for the sake of their approval.  We may find that we are God's good-time friends in this moment, there for Him so long as we are getting our way, but absent the moment it gets tough.  We find out, then, just how little we truly love Him.

When we lose all that we have, we find out just how much of an idol we have made of our worldly possessions.  Do we praise God in this instance, knowing that He only takes away something so that He can replace it with better? Or do we give ourselves over to bitter hearts and bitter thoughts and become angry with God for the losses we've suffered? It's easy to love God when we have plenty, but true love doesn't stay only when things are going well.

The truth is that it is during our darkest moments of pain and suffering that we come to find the truth about ourselves and what we really believe.  It is important for us to know the truth, no matter how ugly it may be, so that we may work to make changes to our hearts while there is still time.  God knows this, and so He gives us tests and trials that we might know the truth and be set free.

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