Testing God vs. Testing His Promises
Updated: Jul 7
There is a Difference
God tests us. You mostly hear people say they are being tested during a rough time in their lives. Not as often you hear people with great success saying they are being tested with all they are receiving. Either way, you have probably felt tested as well. One can think that being tested means that we ought to be able to test back. Yes, of course, you can test back, however, it may be beneficial to understand what kind of testing God encourages you to do.
When God does the testing, it is a purification process. When we do the testing it is often a process of proving. You are used to testing your knowledge in school, your strength in athletics, or endurance in marathons or survival challenges. These are similar, but when we are doing the testing it is rarely to make a thing better and instead to make the thing prove itself. A lot of us feel like we have something to prove.
So what is the difference between testing God and testing His promises? It is now understood that the way testing happens from God is different than testing from us, so what is the main difference? Testing God the person is suggesting that you need to be convinced He is God. You are challenging Him. If that is what you would like to do, then that's your choice. Perhaps read Deuteronomy 6 and learn about what happens when people test their Creator. When we test God's promises, we do the things He commands us to do in an effort to see what happens.
James 1:12 NASB Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
This is a promise you can test.
Deuteronomy 6:16 NASB “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah."
This is not a promise, but a command.
My Experience With Testing God The Person
There was a time when I thought that the world was mine for the taking. I thought that all the things I wanted would come, simply because they would and because I am me. What I did not expect was to be without the money and status. Can you relate to those desires?
The life that was being led at the time was one leading to isolation. People tried to tell me that I was going to end up alone and I thought "that is because you are too weak to follow real determination!" The ego, it was strong. I genuinely thought that you either stood with me, followed me, or needed to get the hell out of the way. I kept "telling" God what He needed to do. I put myself in the position of commander in chief. I tested God because I knew I was strong enough to do so. One could say I was taking His name in vain, and I even said I was God of my world a time or two. That is taking the Lord's name in vain, by the way. Not just saying it as an expression, but claiming to be God.
I expected these desires to manifest. I met with preachers and "knew" I could preach "better" than they could. I could be a better leader of people and could sweep their trusted servants aside. People would love me, and I would be their reason for... well what-the-hell-ever. Good for those men of God for having the discernment to remove me from their congregations.
If you are still reading, thank you. This is where it starts to change.
I started to be fed up with the fact that nothing was happening the way I told God to make them happen. I started to "convince" myself that God was not real and did not love me. All because I did not get what I wanted to have and expected to receive. After all, I was praying and believing it would happen (a misuse of James 1:6).
Life got super dark. Drinking became the only thing I wanted to do. It took over every aspect of my life. I was in control though, don't worry. It started to be a process that resembled something like this...
Wake up and figure out a way to earn drinking money
Drink all of the money that was available
Take out my drunken frustration on the young lady by my side
Find more money for more alcohol
Drink that, too
Realize I have not eaten and find more money
Eat the value meal and use the rest for more drinking
It repeated this way nearly every day for three or so years. Here are the results of testing God as I have experienced them when my motivation was purely selfish.
Job 20:20 NASB “Because he knew no quiet within him, He does not retain anything he desires."
I was left with nothing. No money, family, property, respect... nothing.
I learned to not test God for selfish gain because it does not last. Nothing I "earned" stuck in my life. Once I had it, I wasted it. Good women that were full of love, two children I miss dearly, vehicles, and a lot of money. These things did not last for me, because I did not realize how precious they are.
My Experience Testing His Promises
God makes some promises, lofty promises. Here are a few of them that I have tested.
Exodus 14:14 NASB "The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.”
I experienced this in the context of Proverbs 26:4. People have a tendency to prove themselves wrong if you take a step back and let them keep going. You should try it. In my experience, people that attack me find other things to attack if they are not acknowledged. Think about this in your own life. Test this promise and watch as the negativity leaves your life, and peace enters it. If the words they are saying are hateful and slanderous, defend yourself with what you know is true. The truth will always come to light, and it is necessary only some of the time, to bring it to light yourself.
Isaiah 41:13 NASB “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you."
Try this when it comes to starting that venture you cannot get out of your head. You know, the one that you think about when you're alone. The one you are afraid of failing in. I tested this and have a podcast, this blog, this website, and have a little bit left before I graduate from college. This is my experience.
Malachi 3:10 NASB "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows."
Test His promise when it comes to money and possessions. He does not promise you will receive more money than you know what to do with, that is a false promise that men made up. God says He will bless you until it overflows. In my experience, this is a true promise. Here is what it looked like.
I got laid off from a job I truly enjoyed. I knew it was coming, the signs were all there. It was scary because it provided a wonderful life for this little family. When it was finished, and I had my walking papers, I utilized the GI Bill that was earned through military service. The GI Bill pays tuition and a living allowance called a Monthly Housing Allowance. My family was able to make it without the allowance, but it was really nice to have. Before that hit our bank account, however, we decided together to give our tithe. We gave what we could joyfully give (2 Corinthians 9:7). The results were not immediately noticed, but when we did realize what was happening, we were prepared enough to own a home. We got more involved with serving people with what they needed. People came with their needs (either to our church or to us directly) and we have never turned them away (Matthew 5:42).
What has happened since are relationships that are so fulfilling, and healthy. Even with the folks that do not believe as we do, their lives are changing. The blessings that God promises happen. This is just the life things that my family has noticed, let me tell you what I have noticed personally.
Since giving to God - life, will, heart, money, etc. - I have noticed remarkable things. One in particular that I want to share with you. That one thing is satisfaction. I am completely satisfied. I married my best friend, and plan to have children with her. The relationship with my current children seems to be getting closer to a real thing again. I have respect again. I have trust that I do not have a desire to manipulate. I do not want for anything. Sure, I fantasize about teslas every now and then, but I don't actually desire one enough to go for it. My needs and wants are met and I am completely satisfied with what God has blessed me with. I do not have enough gratitude for all of it, which ought to tell you that it has certainly overflowed.
You may not prosper with millions of dollars but you will be satisfied. Let me leave you with a promise that Jesus gave to His people. Be well.
John 4:14 NASB "...but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”