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Why Does God Test Us?



Wrapping up the “Why Does God…” series, Ben Stuart addresses the purpose of testing, why God tests us at all, and how we are to respond to it through studying Deuteronomy 8.

Key Takeaway

God tests you for your good—He evaluates, teaches, and prepares you for a future that is much bigger than you imagined.

Why does God test us? We don't have to question if He does; we know it absolutely happens. He will test you in multiple ways.

Pain—God brought His people to the wilderness.

Prosperity—How do you respond when everything is going well?

Praise—What happens to your ego? See Proverbs 17:3.

Pulling Back—We see this in Hezekiah when God just allows him to make a decision, and He doesn't divinely intervene.

Jeremiah 20:12 says that the Lord tests rightly the heart and the mind. So, we can expect it to happen.

Ultimately, what is God's purpose? Why does He put us through the particular test He does? How do we respond?

These answers are found in Deuteronomy 8. God reminds them of the past to prepare them for the future.

1) What is God's ultimate purpose in testing us?

  • Deuteronomy 8:1—God gave the law as a way of seeing and engaging life. His people needed to be careful to do it. He gives two commands in this verse.
  • Live and multiply. This is a fulfillment of the command given in Genesis 1-2. God wants His people to thrive and multiply.
  • Go in and possess the land. This isn't about real estate. God had promised this land to their father, Abraham, so He could bless him and his descendants, and everyone would be blessed through them as a people. All nations would know God because of them.

It's always for our good and His glory. He gives these commands because He wants us to be part of a thriving community with a thrilling cause. This is the longing of every human heart: to be known and a part of something bigger than yourself. It can drive some to politics and others to gangs, but God has something better. Do you trust in God's character? When you can't trace His hand, do you trust His heart?

2) Why does God test us?

  • Deuteronomy 8:2—To evaluate you. To know what is in your heart. If God knows everything, why test us? Because He likes for our lives to play out in reality. A good teacher knows what you'll get on a test, but they still give you the test. It's a paper trail for both you and them. It allows the world to see where you are. Difficulty exposes your deficiency. Your actions betray what you really believe. It gives you a starting point from where to move forward.
  • To educate you. Deuteronomy 8:3—God wants you to know something. Part of the test is to teach you. He doesn't want to crush you; He wants to instruct you. When you are squeezed, you see what really comes out of you, and you may not like it. God does this not to shame you but to help you. He wants you to know there is a way of living life that is insufficient, and He has a bigger story. God gave the manna in the wilderness—a beautiful combination of agency, where they had to go pick it up, and humility, knowing that God fed them. He's trying to give you humility. Man does not eat by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
  • To prepare you.
  • Deuteronomy 8:4—He provided in ways they never thought about.
  • Deuteronomy 8:5—God disciplines to make you useful. He knows bigger tests are coming, so He's preparing you now. He puts you in situations where you are desperately aware of your need for God so that when you're not desperate, you still remember Him. He's preparing you in the pain for the prosperity of the future, so that when you get to the Promise Land, you can do it right, you can be a Kingdom of Priests, a chosen nation. Fathers discipline their sons to produce steadfastness. See James 1:2-4.

Spoiler: Moses gives the command, and the people eventually enter the land. The people mess up beyond anything their ancestors or enemies did. God gives them chance after chance to do things the right way. They needed to remember who God was and that's what informs us on how to respond when we keep messing up.

How do we respond?

Remember. Remember God, the Lord who rescued and provided. He will give you life, a community, and a cause. Deuteronomy 8 is quoted often in the New Testament, not as things to do but to remember God.

  • Matthew 4—Jesus suffers in the wilderness like we do. He humbled Himself to face what we face. He suffers immense hunger and in the midst of the greater test comes the temptation. Satan tempts Him by telling Him to turn the stones into bread. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 and refuses to abandon His Father to meet His needs. He submits to the Father because He trusts Him. Jesus succeeds where we fail.
  • Earlier in Numbers 21:4-9, Moses talked about the fiery serpents. God warned the people that if they continued to disobey, there would be judgment. Sometimes, our pain is a direct result of our sin. Not always, but sometimes. So, the serpents bit them and they were dying. God tells Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it up on a staff and everyone that looks to it will be healed. It seems weird. The greater truth is that our sins lead us to a sickness unto death and God's solution is that we have to look up and acknowledge what we did. We realize our sickness is because of our rebellion, but when we come humbly, God forgives us.
  • John 3:14-16. Jesus tells Nicodemus that to be saved, he must be born again. Just as the serpent was lifted up on the wilderness, the Son of Man must be lifted up. Jesus did not live aloof our of suffering, He took it upon Himself. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. When you humble yourself, acknowledge your sin, and look at Him, that humility is healing. We're meant to remember the Son of God who came for us to heal us.
  • Remember, God is the One who brought water from the rock and, therefore, brought life. In 1 Corinthians 10:4, the rock is Christ. He was struck so that He would pour forth life that we might live.

How do we get better in our tests and not bitter? How do we get educated in our call on our life in the midst of trial?

Remember the One who made you. See Jesus, who made a way of life for you.


"Do you trust in the character of God? When you can't trace His hand, do you trust His heart?"

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • Deuteronomy 8:1-20
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.