Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Is God Just Testing You?

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration - the Gospel scene where Christ takes Peter, James and John to the top of the mountain, starts glowing in all His glory (the Great Oz, but for real) talks with Moses and Elijah, and then God the Father thunders, "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him!"

And then it all subsides back to normal, and they trudge down the mountain.

This raises a REALLY important question for us today, namely:

why didn't Christ "glow" all the time, and why didn't God the Father thunder from Heaven to every person on Earth "This is my Son, listen to Him!"?

The standard answer is this: "God is testing us."  When we listen to the saints and the entirety of Scripture we see something - this idea that God is "testing us" is wrong.

To be clear, there are certainly passages in the Bible that refer to God testing human beings, but being Catholic, we don't have to read every passage literally, and so there are certainly times where we can understand that the Biblical authors were ascribing to God human characteristics to help explain the ultimately unexplainable.  So as Catholics we are okay with reading "God tests humanity" without believing that it is really happening quite that way.

As an aside, we see this phenomenon a lot in the Old Testament, where God is often times described as being quite moody and temperamental...but God is neither.

Back to the point at hand then - am I left to grope about in spiritual darkness while on this Earth simply because "God is testing me?"  NO! 

"Welcome to life!  Please use a number 2 pencil and make sure all the blanks are completely filled in.  You have an unspecified number of days to complete your test.  Good luck!"

God is not a proctor of an exam; God didn't make us for the thrill of having a bunch of people on Earth he could test. 

So here's the really cool takeaway: me not seeing floating Eucharistic Hosts, and me not seeing a glowing Christ all the time, and me not hearing from Heaven "This is my Son, listen to Him" is actually something God wants me to experience, and it is a GOOD thing for me to experience, and it is BETTER for me to experience my life as is than it would be to hear God's voice!

The "ordinary", the "boring", the "normal", every day life is something that God must know is BETTER FOR ME THAN SEEING A GLOWING CHRIST RIGHT NOW!

Let that sink in for a minute!  God is not testing you...you are experiencing, right now, the reality that God knows to be best for you.

And let's carry this one step further - if this isn't the case, if this life situation, this environment, these people that are in my life is not what God REALLY wants for me, if I think I would actually be better off in Heaven, then suicide makes a lot of sense. 

If you hold the "God as test giver" view of things, then the only reason you don't kill yourself is because you would fail the test, and that's just a dumb reason to stay alive.

"Why don't you kill yourself?"  "I would, but I'd fail the test, so I'm going to endure"

That is such a wrong view of God, but one that many people have. 

We know God isn't just testing us, but what is He up to then?

The saints don't necessarily say they can explain it all, but one common thing we hear from the mystics is that if we had "mountain top experiences" all the time, we would not grow or develop.  If I were beholding Christ in all His glory, I would just stay there, moving neither physically nor spiritually.  That makes a lot of sense to me.

God is not testing you.  Life is not just a test.  It is better for you to be alive right now, on Earth, even though we are immersed in and surrounded by sin, than it would be for you to be in Heaven. 

That blows my mind. 


  1. I once read if you get confused or lost while reading the Bible to remember the Bible is telling the story of a battleground here on earth between good and evil... so far its always helped to clear up troublesome verses and how they fit into the big picture... you're exactly right this is not a test, because God wins the war for us, but he wants us to experience, he wants us right here right now to join in and be improved by the struggle against an unconventional enemy- evil.

  2. Your last paragraph that begins with "God is not testing you" is worthy of meditation. If life were a test then in the perverted mind abortion would become a get out of jail card, actually promoted to keep people from failing the test and being separated from God for eternity. This can't be correct on any level. In Evangelium Vitae John Paul 2 explains why life is a gift worth living. In the summary of the encyclical the vatican offers point #2... Life is a gift. "Earthly life, which is at once both relativized and given new value, opens up to the prospect of eternal life. It is not an absolute value in itself: It is entrusted to man as a beginning to be made fruitful for eternity as a first gift which will reach its fullness if, after the example of Christ and with his power, it succeeds in becoming a gift of love of God and of others. This is the truest and most profound meaning of life: The gift is accomplished in self-giving. "For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's will save it" (Mk. 8:35). The martyrs freely gave their lives out of love, showing that our earthly existence is not something absolute to which we should cling at all costs. "No one, however, can arbitrarily choose whether to live or die; the absolute master of such a decision is the Creator alone, in whom 'we live and move and have our being' (Acts 17:28)" (No. 47). One last thought, again from JP2, his theology of the body, God already had Angels, spirits, he created man with bodies and became man himself with a body, our life on earth is an indescribable gift, which can only attain its potential by first living. He gave us the gift to create more Love, imitating the Trinity, something the angels lack, I think?