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November 5, 2020

Testing or Trusting God?

The Path Blog, at

“I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, Lord, make me live in safety” (Ps 4:8).
“Do not put the LORD your God to the test” (Deut 6:16).

There is a fine line between testing and trusting God, and during this time of pandemic the distinction is critical.

Testing the Lord is, in a sense, daring him to keep you safe. You do this by unnecessarily putting yourself in harm's way. If you drive recklessly, thinking that somehow God will keep you safe from accidents, that is testing. If you spend your money without thought of savings, that is an act of testing God. And if you put yourself in a situation where it is likely that you will catch COVID, that is an act of testing. While God often keeps us safe even when we do stupid things, there is no guarantee that he will do so the next time. Jesus knew the difference and refused to jump off the temple, testing God that he would send his angels to catch him.

On the other hand, trusting the Lord is not living in fear. God has made specific promises to his children, among others, to keep us safe. Of course, he may keep us safe by allowing us to die and bringing us safely home; God makes no promises about the absence of pain and the presence of pleasure. Nevertheless, we can trust that nothing will happen to us that has not filtered through his fingers.

But where is the line between testing and trusting? When we have to make decisions in the real world, how do we know what is an act of testing versus trusting? I wish I had a hard and fast rule for this situation, but I don't think there is one. So what do we do?

  • Pray for wisdom.
  • Exercise common sense.
  • Check your motives. Are you acting out of fear or indifference?
  • Gain wise counsel from godly friends.

But what if I get it wrong? Then you get it wrong. Welcome to life. It is in the making of decisions and observing the consequences that we learn and grow.

I suspect that the real challenge for all children of God is when we think God will keep us safe, and yet we still get in accidents, run out of money, or catch COVID.

My first reaction is to re-evaluate my decision. I thought that I made sure my decision was in faith of God's safety. Perhaps I was wrong.

If you decide you did act in faith, then perhaps God is asking you to continue trusting that he is sovereign over all and that what happened will help to conform us to the image of his Son, to make us look more like Jesus.

At the end of the day, masks will not save us from COVID, and our trust should not be in them. Yes, wear them as appropriate; do not test God. But our God is in control. It is he who will enable you to "lie down and sleep in peace." It is he who will "make me live in safety."

Just so you don't think I indifferent, I am writing this while my wife Robin is waiting for her COVID test results. We had a decision to make. The BiblicalTraining board had not been able to meet face-to-face for some time, so we decided to visit them. 

Test or trust? We felt that we were supposed to go, and common sense said that the personal connection was meaningful. But common sense also said to fly first class (I had credits) where it wasn't so crowded, and wear masks. Common sense also said not to use a meal as an excuse not to wear a mask. Have you noticed how slowly some people sip their coffee while on a flight, so they don't have to wear a mask? I didn't know it took two hours to drink a cup of coffee.

We also had another choice. Does Robin stop meeting with women? Robin is a life coach and specializes in walking with women through difficult times of transition. In some of those relationships, not meeting can have serious consequences. She meets outside and stays six feet apart. It turns out that if Robin does have COVID, then she caught it from her last client.

So these issues are real, and we must pray for the wisdom and discernment to distinguish between trust and test, and then continue to believe that our all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God is on his throne, working his good in our lives.

P.S. We just heard that Robin does not have COVID. We're thankful.

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