My son Fionn held up two toy cars. “Which one is faster?” he asked. I gave him my answer and he said, “No. Neither is faster. It depends on who is driving them.” Trick question. I confess to being a little irritated in that moment by this answer.
“Then why ask me which one?” I asked.
Oblivious to my irritation, Fionn answered with a question: “What’s the point of a test if you don’t learn something?”
That’s an interesting answer. We are used to thinking of tests as a way to measure what we already know, not to teach what we don’t yet understand. They are the means by which our teachers find out if we were paying attention in class.
So now think of this in relation to God’s testing. God is no school teacher issuing a spiritual scantron hoping to check our progress. He knows our progress already. Rather, we are the beneficiaries of the testing. We are tested to teach, not measure.
Notice the emphasis of James: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (1.2-4).
Testing in our life isn’t to measure what’s already there. It’s to produce something additional to it. It’s to help us grow in Christ.
C.S. Lewis once said that if you think of the world as a place to make you happy, then you’ll be disappointed. Instead, he said, “think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”
Fionn was exactly right: “What’s the point of a test if you don’t learn something?” We need to get more comfortable assuming the goodness of God. The trials and tests that we endure are there for our good.