The other day as we were driving to school, I asked Joy, "Do you have any tests today?" When she replied that she did, I said, "Did you study? Are you ready for the test?" She assured me that she had looked over her material and felt prepared enough to do well on it.
I wish I had Joy's confidence, but some days I do not feel prepared for the tests that come my way. The Bible tells us, however, that we will be tested and that we should, in fact, "consider it pure joy, my brothers (and sisters), whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance" (James 1:2-3).
As a student, I never considered it a joy to be tested in the subjects I studied. But all the effort that went into preparing for those tests, as difficult as the effort and those tests were, yielded a joyful result when I received my grades. On those few occasions when I failed to adequately prepare for the test, I received a low score and felt tremendous regret that I had not done more.
How can we, as Christians, prepare for the tests that will surely come our way? How can we even begin to imagine how difficult those tests might be? I remember well the conversation I had with my sister weeks after her daughter suffered an injury that no one could have expected. She told me of the many times she had sat in her car on her lunch hour listening to Bible study CDs and taking in God's Word. We talked about the importance of having a daily quiet time, of talking regularly with God, and of being in fellowship with our church families. Years of "preparing" for life's tests gave her the strength she needed to deal with that tragedy, and to help her daughter as well. Together, with God's grace and as a result of their own preparation through prayer and Bible study, they emerged from the test better and stronger, both spiritually and emotionally, and walked through their trial with such grace that God was glorified every step of the way.
What will you do when the phone rings in the middle of the night and you are handed your most difficult test? Will you panic and fall to pieces knowing that it is too much to bear, or will you start preparing now by opening God's Book, searching for the answers to the questions that will inevitably arise, and trusting in the One who alone can see you through? As my pastor says, "people are going to school on you," so make sure you are studying the Word and walking in the promises that were written there for you. Put your faith and trust in Jesus, who has every answer you will ever need in this life.
James writes, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12). And that crown trumps an A+ any day!