The test is proportional to the task, and the bigger the test, the greater the reward. Recently in church, we had a sermon based on Abraham’s test to sacrifice his only son. This was God’s way of testing Abraham’s faith. In case anyone’s wondering why that was such a huge deal, Abraham and his wife Sarah were very old when God blessed them with their son, Isaac.
The thought of getting pregnant in her old age felt so absurd to Sarah, that she laughed when the Lord told Abraham she would have a son in nine months (Genesis 18: 10-15). When Sarah gave birth as the Lord had promised, Abraham was one hundred years old (Genesis 21: 1-7).
As it turned out, Abraham passed the test and in return, God blessed him with descendants who would be as many as the stars in the vast sky, or grains of sand along the seashore (Genesis 22: 17-18). This is a perfect illustration of, ‘The bigger the test, the greater the reward’.
There is also, the biblical story of a good man named Job. He suffered a colossal disaster trying to ward off the devil’s temptation to denounce God. His faith was greatly tested. He lost all his children and property, and the culmination of it all was him suffering from a repulsive disease. After his triumph, God blessed the last part of Job’s life, more than He did his first (Job 42: 12-16).
Again, this is a depiction of the great reward God gives those who are steadfast in faith. The truth is, we’re all being tested. Living is synonymous with tests of faith. There are these Way of The Cross reflections I usually meditate on during Lent, and over the years I feel I have learnt a great deal from them.
From the reflections, I have learnt that during Jesus’ passion on the Cross, He suffered, not because He had to really, but to encourage us when we find ourselves in different tribulations:
My Jesus, even with the help of Simon You fell a third time. Were You telling me that there may be times in my life that I will fall again and again despite the help of friends and loved ones? There are times when the crosses You permit in my life are more than I can bear. It is as if all the sufferings of a life are suddenly compressed into the present moment and it is more than I can stand.
Though it grieves my heart to see You so weak and helpless, it is a comfort to my soul to know that You understand my sufferings from Your own experience. Your love for me made You want to experience every kind of pain just so I could have someone to look to for example and courage.
When I cry out from the depths of my soul, “This suffering is more than I can bear.”
Do You whisper, “Yes, I understand”? When I’m discouraged after many falls, do You say in my innermost being, “keep going, I know how hard it is to rise”?
I see injustice and am frustrated; and when my plan to alleviate it seems futile, I despair. When I see those burdened with poverty suffer ever more and cross is added to cross, my heart is far from serene. I utterly fail to see the dignity of the cross as it is carried with love. I would so much rather be without it.
My worldly concept is that suffering, like food, should be shared equally. How ridiculous I am, dear Lord. Just as we do not all need the same amount of material food, neither do we need the same amount of spiritual food and that is what the cross is in my life, isn’t it? Spiritual food proportional to my needs. Amen.
The suffering is inevitable, so the trick is to look up to the ‘Man of sorrows’ for strength and consolation.
Good Friday is in the offing. While Covid-19 has redesigned how most of us celebrate Easter, we are still called upon to reflect on the Gospel, in relation to how we live. Our human nature makes us prone to sin, and God knows that. Nonetheless, every time we err, we need to ask God to give us that grace to repent and commit ourselves do doing what is right.
Like I have said severally, that is easier said than done. However, once we make that personal commitment to abstain from wrong, we will find the strength in us to do what is right. Even when things feel like they are spiralling out of control, we just need to master the strength to do what’s right and to trust in God. He will never fail us if we put our trust in Him.