By the Rev. Lakeya Stewart
Song writer Bishop Larry Trotter wrote the words:
“It’s only a test you’re going through, it’s gonna be over real soon. Keep the faith; don’t give up, for it’s only a test!”
The song entitled, “It’s Only A Test” has been the title of many sermons. The phrase is often used to encourage people who are “going through” difficult times in life.
Tests and trials are part of the Christian walk and people often say that if you have “No test, you have no testimony.” Although this phrase is not in the Bible, it does reflect some of what we see illustrated in scripture. Take for instance the New Testament Saul whose name was changed to Paul after his “conversion experience” on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-31). Saul used to be a persecutor of the Christians and he then became a mighty man of God who proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul’s test became his testimony.
We all have tests. How we go through our tests and trials defines the level of our Christian faith. I am not excluded from these tests, and neither are you.
On Saturday Aug. 1, 2014, I sat in the airport for five hours anxiously awaiting my flight to Detroit so that my husband and I could drive our car back to Fort Wayne. We were ending our vacation. Although I enjoyed the sites in the Bahamas, I was now ready to sleep in my own bed!
As each hour passed, I felt a glimmer of relief. There was only so much that I could do in the airport with noise all around me. As Zone 3 of the airplane was called to board, I proudly stood up with ticket in hand and I proceeded to the ticket booth. I showed my ticket and began to board the plane.
Daniel and I walked through the aisle of the plane looking for our economy seat. As I made my way to the back, I located my seat number—23B.
After locating my seat number, I looked down to see who I was randomly selected to sit next to. Can you guess who or what was sitting in seat 23A? (If you have read some of my previous articles, you know that the title of this article includes my dog’s name—and moreover, that I am overcoming my fear of dogs) Sitting next to the window in seat 23A was a woman who was holding a dog. “Really, God?” I asked. Of ALL the people on this plane, you sit me next to the lady who has special permission to have her special needs dog on her lap. Great!
The lady could tell by the look on my face that I wasn’t a “dog lover” per se. In this moment, I was forced to think on my feet. How was I to convey to Daniel my discomfort concerning the idea of sitting next to a dog for three hours? I had a quick vision of me falling asleep and this long-haired, brown dachshund (miniature) licking and kissing my face—gross!
I sat in my seat for about 10 seconds before I asked Daniel to switch seats with me. Daniel, the “dog-lover” was excited to sit next to a dog! The flight was overbooked and my options were at zero but his desire to connect with the dog let me “off the hook!” I began to talk to the woman about our dog named Courage and I gained her permission to write about this experience.
As I sit in seat 23C, an aisle seat, I write this article. For a second, I thought that I had failed this test. After all, I just shared with the world my new found “Courage” a few weeks ago! When I shared I talked about my ability to not only tolerate dogs but to embrace them. Just as I was about to beat myself up mentally, I decided to pick up my pen and paper and to write.
You see, I did not fail the test. In fact, I passed. I was able to sit down next to this woman and dog without sweating, without fear and without having a panic attack! Just because I chose not to sit next to the dog doesn’t mean that I am a failure. I am taking this dog thing one day at a time. I am learning that I just have a preference of sitting by a human only and not a dog!
Tests and trials come to let us know what is in us. God said to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 8:3 that he “suffered thee to hunger” to prove what was in their hearts. Basically, God allowed the children of Israel to be tested. God allowed me to be tested as well.
Have you been tested lately? Have you ever felt that your tests weren’t coming to make your stronger but rather to tear you down? The Good News is that God has already equipped us with every tool needed to pass any test that may arise in our lives. Just like people sometimes fail their drivers license tests, we as believers will not always pass every single faith test that we encounter. Sometimes we pass but with just the minimal score. A pass in the end is a pass. But, even if we do not pass every test, we have a God who walks with us in the good times and in the bad times. As you reflect on your test and trials this week, ask yourself the question….am I ready to be tested? Be blessed.
For questions or further correspondence concerning future topics or speaking engagements, please email atRevStewartSpeaks@outlook.com.
The Rev. Dr. Lakeya Stewart, M.Div., D.Min., ABD attended Berea College and the Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky and earned a double major B.A. degree in Sociology and in African & African American Studies as well as the Master of Divinity Degree. Rev. Stewart is currently writing a dissertation on Toxic Leadership and Spiritual Abuse through Regent University.