Lent 2013 – day 37

21 Mar

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

In the second half of verse 23, David asks God to test him. The Message translation phrases it like this:
Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about

And The Voice translation puts it:
Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain

In all 3 versions we see the idea of David wanting God to discover what sort of man he is like when the pressure is on him.

Very often we can find that whilst we are good and Godly in the good times, when things turn bad we struggle to keep it up. And we are not alone in that. Of the Twelve Disciples, when the pressure came 1 betrayed, 1 denied and the rest slept and then fled. As we get closer and closer to Easter we are reminded of how Judas sold Jesus to the Jewish authorities for 30 pieces if silver. We read about about how Peter denied knowing Jesus 3 times when asked. And we see how the rest of the disciples were unable to stay awake in Gethsemane and then, when Jesus was arrested, ran away in fear rather than support Jesus.

And yet, we are told that we will be tested in order that we may be made stronger:
1 Peter 1:6-7 – In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

And Jesus confirmed this when He said:
John 15:1-2 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

Both these passages talk about God making us better through the hard times. In Peter’s letter we see the image of a blacksmith refining metal representing God putting us to the test and bringing us out stronger and purer than we started off. And when Jesus talks about pruning it is the image familiar to anyone who enjoys gardening, that of cutting back the good trees and vines in order that they may grow more in the future.
And, as the NET Bible puts 1 Corinthians 10 verse 13:
No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.

So the testing that we get given is so that we might be made better for God, improved for His glory. And, as David suggests, so that the real us might come out and be seen.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.


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Archbishop Cranmer

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