It was the end of the last semester of my Senior year of college, and I had one major hurdle standing between me and graduation. Greek class. I was studying to be a youth pastor, and since the New Testament was originally written in Greek, I thought it’d be good for me to have a least some knowledge of the language to help me in my studies.

That decision was haunting me as I approached graduation. I had taken Greek my Junior year, but I had failed…miserably!. So I had to repeat it again my Senior year, and I needed to pass the class in order to finish my college career and graduate.

Actually, I had to ace the final exam in order to pass the class so that I could graduate. I had an F in the class, and only a 100% on the final exam would bring my grade up enough to pass with a D-. That week I studied like never before. At that time I was not a coffee drinker (didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 30), and I honestly look back now and wonder how I made it through that week without it!

I aced the exam, and passed Greek. I’ve never been happier for such a low grade in my life. And I vowed to never try my hand at Greek again.

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It’s amazing how some things can test and challenge us in ways we’ve never been tested and challenged before. Not just in school, but in life. There are certain circumstances, certain decisions, certain temptations and trials that will test us like nothing else has ever done before.

We go through tests in life all the time, but most of them are fairly simple to handle. A challenge at work, a difficulty with a friend/colleague, a test of wills between you and your child as they grow up, etc. These are normal life tests that we expect to face, and generally we handle OK. Sometimes we don’t, so we end up having some repair and apologizing to do. But in general, we move through many of these tests and life continues on as as usual.

Then there are those tests and trails, those difficult circumstances and situations in life, that are beyond what we thought we’d ever face. They are life altering, and end up taking all of our time and attention to deal with when we find ourselves in the midst of them.

These are the most difficult tests we will ever take.

These tests will change our future, regardless of how we handle them. Whether we pass or fail the test itself, these tests are life changing. And most of the time we aren’t even sure if we passed or failed it until many years later.

Honestly though, I don’t think these kind of tests are a simple pass or fail kind of test. They are instead a daily test that some days we pass and some days we fail. And, regardless of how we did on a particular day, we have to take the test again the next day. The difficult circumstance does not go away because we might of passed the day before, nor does the circumstance show us any sympathy on the following day if we happened to struggle and fail the day before.

Every day is like taking the test all over again. We hope to pass the day we are on, and perhaps even learn from the times we failed in past. And all the while we wait for the test and trial to finally come to an end (or at least ease up).

The way we answer these tests is by how we respond to them with our choices, decisions, actions and reactions. And it is these tests and trails of life, as well as our response to them, that will have a major impact on who we become in the future.

Will we be someone who gives up, or perseveres? Will we become someone who whines and complains, or stands strong and works hard? Will we begin to blame others for our difficult life circumstances, or will we choose to deal with it with dignity and strength? Will we choose to do what is wrong, or what is right?

How we respond to the biggest and most difficult of life’s tests and trials will have a major impact on who we become in this life. 

God allows tests and trails in to our life for this very reason…to grow us into who he wants us to become. He has a plan, even for the difficult times. But he also gives us the ability to choose how we respond. Will we see these trails as opportunities to grow or reasons to give up?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

May we stand strong when we are faced with life’s most difficult tests. May we strive to learn and grow from the difficulties, not give up and shrink from them. May we seek and strive to respond properly when we are in the midst of these tests.