There can be joy in being tested by the Spirit. Did you know that? In the last two weeks, I have passionately cried out for ‘glitchy CD’ scenarios and knuckles gnarled from lots of door knocking, and wow, has that passion been tested ever since!
Every passionate declaration and prayer of mine has been tested and taken up by God. I used to think that it was rather reckless of me to shout out my heart while still dizzy with the bliss of His presence, but I know now that it isn’t. In fact, I am never as clearly aligned with the purpose of God as when I have His presence. When He is as beautifully real to me as the sun on my face and the wind in my hair, it would be a sin to withhold any passion that He’s placed in my heart. That it will be tested simply means that He wants it made as real and valuable to me in the ordinary as in the heavens.
A Love Sorely Tested
When I was first born again, I told the Lord that my testimony was His to use however and whenever He wanted – ALL of it. I was delirious with joy at the time and had no clue just what I was offering. I thought that meant opening my heart to people one-on-one, privately. I never dreamed that He’d call me to write on this blog and share my messy life so publicly. I am an intensely private person and the very thought of putting myself out there like that was horrifying to me. My love offering was sorely tested! Many tears and surrenders later, here I am. I’m still writing what He asks me to write and finding unexpected joy in doing so.
Being tested by the Spirit is often an excruciating thing, but as it turns out, not exclusively. I’m discovering that the quicker my surrender to adverse circumstances, the greater my joy in moving through them. It makes no sense logically! How can there be joy in the most miserable situations? Apart from grace and the risen life of Christ, there can’t be.
To illustrate, let me tell you about how I was tested last week. On Monday, a minor eye infection bloomed into corneal ulcers. One of the biggest symptoms of corneal ulcers is photophobia, which is “extreme sensitivity to light.” What that means practically is that when my eyes were open, it felt like they were being stabbed repeatedly with an ice pick. This pain was especially triggered when I looked at computer screens, which is only necessary for 95% of my daily responsibilities. Prognosis for joy? Zero, nada, zilch.
I didn’t just knock on the door, I pounded on it! I was completely debilitated, unable to do what I needed to do on the most basic level. I begged for miraculous healing but didn’t get it. I asked for relief from the pain and found none. The Lord tested my passion for more glitchy CD situations by rendering me completely unable to handle ANY of the responsibilities He’s given me. And this time, He didn’t solve the problem by instantly healing my eyes. Yet He heard me and He absolutely solved the problem.
Tested and Rewarded
Somehow, in the midst of abject misery, I never lost a buoyant sense of wellbeing. Though I was in pain, I wasn’t ruled by it. Though I couldn’t see to do my job, the necessary tasks were completed. But most shocking of all, I had inexplicable joy and enormous gratitude that were untouched by the pain and difficulty. Christ’s Life carried me every minute of the four days it took for my eyes to begin to heal. My passion was tested and my knocking was rewarded by the most profound experience of His presence yet.
There really can be joy in being tested! I never understood how Paul could rejoice after the Lord refused to remove the ‘thorn in his side,’ but I’m beginning to know it in my own life. It’s not just that having the presence of the Lord is worth the pain, though it is. It’s that His presence supersedes the pain and misery entirely.
Three different times I begged God to make me well again. Each time He said, “No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.” Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 TLB