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Testing, Testing…

There is nothing like a pending natural disaster to test the heart and spirit. Isaiah 12:2 says, “Surely God is my salvation: I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord is my strength and song; He has become my salvation.” But in the uncertainty of the impact of hurricane Florence, were our hearts at rest in making necessary preparations, or was our activity driven by fear? It is probably safe to say that the vast majority of us were at the very least anxious…and that points to fear.

Certainly, God gave us a fear response for our own protection and motivation – a good thing. But, when fear becomes consuming – possessing our thoughts, requiring all our time/energy – it feeds on itself. As it replaces God as Supreme in our lives, panic and desperation direct our hearts, and subsequently, our behavior.

Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, exhorted them: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor 13:5) Our emotions, especially fear, will reveal our level of trusting God, if we will take the time to examine them. Perhaps some of us are so afraid of failing the test that we choose to avoid it. But this test is not about condemnation. It is more a marker of where we are, compared to where we should be or want to be. Testing ourselves gives us the opportunity to make course corrections before we are too far down a stretch of bad road. Interestingly, life (and hurricanes) give us plenty of testing opportunities, if we are willing to take the honest, hard look.

Trusting God carries huge rewards. But the act of trusting the reality of God, Who is Spirit, versus the reality of physical danger or insurmountable circumstances can be very difficult. The problem is that we either forget Who God is, or we never understood His Character to begin with. When our understanding of Him is lacking, fear easily erodes whatever little trust was there; fear is the anti-trust. But when we constantly learn of the Lord through scripture – hiding His Word in our hearts – we are reminded He is the Creator of all things, Sovereign over all, all-loving, all-gracious, all-merciful: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Ro 8:28)

This does not mean God will do things the way we think is best, but the way He knows will ultimately be best. Therefore, true trust must be in the Character of God, not in what we observe God does (our eyes and understanding can mislead us). “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

So, the test and the circumstances behind it then become opportunity. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)