Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tests

It's a funny thing when a whole bunch of people are reading and thinking about the same thing at the same time. It's what I suppose is good about the lectionary when it works well. One friend is fighting himself as he's starting to really quite enjoy reading what he calls his 'Rick Warren Lenten penance'. He's still reeling that he's actually reading a book written by an American who wears Hawaiian shirts.

Day 5 has caused the most feedback and comment so far among people. One of our home groups grappled with the concept of 'testing' all evening and seemingly on an individual level the idea that God 'tests us' is not something our comfort-oriented culture sits very well with. 

Here's the passage that has caused people the most trouble:

'We don't know all the tests God will give you, but we can predict some of them, based on the Bible. You will be tested by major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism, and even senseless tragedies. In my own life I have noticed that God tests my faith through problems, tests my hope by how I handle possessions, and tests my love through people.

A very important test is how you act when you can't feel God's presence in your life. Sometimes God draws back and we can't sense his closeness. A king named Hezekiah experienced this test. The Bible says, 'God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart'. Hezekiah had enjoyed a close fellowship with God, but at a crucial point in his life God left him alone to test his character, to reveal his weakness, and to prepare him for more responsibility.'

[Page 43]

Why is it we seemingly find it so troubling that God deliberately withdraws his hand and do you agree I wonder that at times he does?

One friend is finding it very helpful to watch this interview gradually as he processes the book theologically.

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