Tests Of Life: The More God Takes Away, The More We're Left With
By Michael H. Brown
We've all had it happened. We've been pushed. We've been tried. We need a break. But something else happens. There's another problem, or even a little disaster. We ask, Why, Lord? Why now? Why me?
Often, the tests of life don't seem very fair, but that's because God is trimming us down. He is molding us. He is seeking to take us to a higher level. "Have you ever realized that a 'test of faith' doesn't really test anything unless it pushes you past your last test?" asks Bruce Wilkinson in an excellent book, The Secrets of the Vine, available in our bookstore.
Ah, yes, the trials of life: you know the kind of days. You slough off one negative occurrence, you avoid an argument, a fight, you rise above a mishap, a disappointment. You're doing pretty well. Though it seems like everything is going wrong, you keep your peace. But then comes a real test.
Why is that? Why does God send one thing on top of another?
"If you are confused about where God is pruning you, ask yourself the same question: Where does it hurt?" Wilkinson writes. "Through pain, God gets your attention and signals His urgency. The discomfort says, 'Pay attention here.' In mature pruning, the pruning will intensify as God's shears cut closer to the core of who you are."
In other words, the Lord wants us to look inwardly. He wants us to see what needs to be seen. And that's when we need to develop recollection. If we stop what we're doing when things seem to be spinning out of control and recollect ourselves in prayer, we're able to approach the higher level of testing that the Lord has in store for us -- and even find joy in it!
Prayer. Recollection. Easier said than done. But at every moment in life we have to remember that earth is a place of testing. It's the false idea that one can attain nirvana here, utopia in the here and now, without trials, that has gotten mankind into all its trouble.
No, we're meant to be tested, and we're meant to pass those tests. As Wilkinson points out, the Lord often moves into His most intense pruning because like a vine we're ready to really produce. "God isn't trying to just take away," writes this author. "He's faithfully at work to make room to add strength, productivity, and spiritual power in your life."
Put another way: the more God takes away, the more we are left with!
This is why God often seems to cut away those things we slavishly seek first, love most, and begrudge giving up. If you want to know why God is acting as He is, take a look at where it is hurting you. Meditate on where the pain is -- and what is causing it. The Lord's goal is not to hurt us. It isn't to plunder. It's to liberate us so we can more freely pursue His Kingdom.
I've seen this myself. Something I really wanted to do or thought I had to do or wanted to keep is suddenly removed. While at first it's a disappointment -- sometimes even a bitter disappointment -- when we look back days or weeks or years later, we're better off. When the Lord acts in our lives, when He deals in a way that often seems harsh, it is the tender gift of an all-wise and all-loving Father -- a Father Who doesn't apply pain except when it's necessary.
We have only to look at the apostle Paul.
Consider his many trials -- then consider the size of his harvest.
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