And who is God? He is someone who tests (Genesis 22:1). This is in direct conflict with the consumer approach to God that views Him as Someone whose sole purpose in creating the entire universe is to make us happy (rather than holy). Consequently, anything that gets in the way of a never-ending stream of success, ease and self-fulfillment is seen as a burden rather than a blessing. It can’t be prayed away fast enough because we are absolutely sure God doesn’t want that in our lives.
But even if we don’t think that way, the fact remains that most of us don’t appreciate tests. They are painful meaningful specifics that get in the way of our comfortable wandering generalities. Sure I love God and would do anything for Him. What . . . He wants to be Lord of my money? He wants to reign over my speech? He wants me to love the unlovely? Can I get back to You on this?
If we are unable to appreciate the test itself, maybe we can at least appreciate the purpose behind it. God‘s “now I know” (v. 12) is in some sense accommodative for James tells us in his discussion of these events (2:21-24) that years before when God counted Abraham’s faith for righteousness (Genesis 15:6), Abraham had it in him then to do what God later asked him to do at Moriah. That’s why James writes that 15:6 was fulfilled in Abraham offering Isaac (2:23). Though the test didn’t come for quite a while, his faith in God was there years before. The teacher often already knows exactly what’s inside their students—the purpose of the test is simply to draw it out. In this case, Abraham was tested so that his faith might be brought to the fullest light as an example for all. And like any good teacher, God had confidence in His student.
Who is God? He’s Someone who tests because He trusts. He has a long, long record of it. He trusted men and women with ridiculously important tasks. He gave Noah the mission of saving mankind. He had Moses lead Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness. He picked Joseph and Mary to be parents of Jesus. He chose 12 very ordinary men to carry on the work His Son began.
He’s put His faith in billions of people down through the ages. He trusts us with life—with prosperity, adversity, time, wealth, possessions, health, talent, relationships, children and countless other things. Most of all, He trusts us with His Son. Like all who trust, He knows the stabbing disappointment when His faith is violated and broken but He continues to trust because that is what fathers do.
In the end, we are humbled and honored by His confidence in us. We are grateful that He sees in us things we are unable to see in ourselves and arranges events to bring our faith to the forefront.
That’s who God is!