Tests and Trials You Are Not Guaranteed to Pass

Posted by on Mar 10, 2024

It seems that what we call natural disasters, such as wildfires, floods, etc., are not “acts of God” in tests and trials but are simply unavoidable consequences of the physical world which are vital for the regeneration of the nature. These events are seen as the way the physical world continues its existence as a whole by cleansing and repairing itself. Yet, it is said, “The Eternal has done whatever pleased Him” (Psa 135:6). Everything He does, He does as a result of His will with no one to interfere much less to take over. In the following, we would like to posit another way to look at the tests and trials we go through, specifically in reference to the most recent events in Israel. We will explore the matter of tests and trials in the context of the story of some of the greatest men in the Scripture.

Why bad things happen to good people?

Rembrandt: Avraham sacrifices Yitschak

Rembrandt: Avraham sacrifices Yitschak (Hermitage). Did the father pass the test?

The Bible is a book of questions, not of answers. What is important is its challenge. (Jewish saying)

Righteous men like Avraham, Mosheh, Iyov, and Chavakuk did not question the justice of suffering but rather its absence when it was most needed. They were troubled in their times by the perplexing question the righteous always ask: Why good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people? Why evil triumphs over goodness? The righteous people ask such questions and even made accusations towards Heaven: Where was God in the Holocaust, or why did He allow the 7th of October? As King David said: “For Your sake, we are killed all day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Awake, why do You sleep, O Yehovah, arise, do not reject forever. Why do You hide Your face, ignoring our affliction and our oppression?” (Psa 44:22-24). Good and evil are laid out for everyone to see. Nothing happens on the earth which the Most High has not already appointed. No human can do anything against His will, as the wise man has said it: “Do not the evil and the good come out of the mouth of the Most High?” (Lam 3:38).

Is there any way how we can possibly understand the trials Elohim leads us in? It must not occur to us that Elohim takes pleasure of our sufferings and trying us in order to prove His point to us or much less to know what He had not already foreknown. So then, what is the role of the trials we are going through? Why would a loving and merciful God create a world with injustice and sufferings. Should we not expect that a loving and compassionate God would create only goodness and happiness, and not evil and providentially prevent bad from befalling the innocent? But love that says you can do whatever you will is not really love of God. God is stern and disciplinary, and He must be if He cares about us.

The trials of Avraham and Iyov seem to have been tests by which God desired to see the intensity of the faith and the devotion of these righteous men, for He indeed said to Avraham after the test, “For now I know that you fear God seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Gen 22:12). But if this were the case, what was the object of the test in which God told Avraham to sacrifice his only son, as none had witnessed it but God Himself and His messenger, who stopped Avraham’s hand to hurt Yitschak. If Elohim hates human sacrifices and forbids the Israelites to sacrifice their children to idols, why then did He demand Avraham to sacrifice his son? And if the Omniscient had tested Avraham’s faith by telling him to sacrifice his only son, as universally believed by Jews and Christians alike, then it must be presumed that He had not known Avraham and had not complete knowledge of the future. If that were correct, then He indeed needed to test Avraham to provide for Himself such knowledge. In a similar situation was Iyov. It appears that the cause of Iyov’s suffering is the test Elohim needed to know if he would be faithful in time of a severe trial. 

God will not give you test you are guaranteed to pass

Verses such as, “The Eternal knows how to deliver the reverent ones from trials and to keep the unrighteous unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2Pe 2:9) and “No trial has overtaken you except for what man can bear. But Elohim is trustworthy, who shall not allow you to be tried above what you are able. But with the trial He shall also give the way to escape, enabling you to bear it” (1Co 10:13), seem to be telling us that “You shall not be tested above what you are able to endure”, or if you are indeed tested, there will be an exit easy to find. These verses are being perceived by many that God will not give you a test you cannot pass, i.e., easy tests. Can we rethink this?

The disciples did not mean that God will give you easy trials, or no trials you at all, or if He tests you, the test will be easy to pass. But what they meant was that God will not give you a test you are guaranteed to pass. There will be sufferings, and woes, and doubts. The trial of Iyov is quite convincing. The Jewish concept of tests and trials, as opposed to the ones of other religions, is this: “I ask Elohim not for a lighter burden but for stronger shoulders”. For indeed, the disciple has said, “Blessed is the man who does endure trial, for when he has been proved, he shall receive the crown of life which the Master has promised to those who love him” (Jas 1:12).

And we read in Shemot Rabbah 31: “Blessed is the man who stands in his temptation; for there is no man whom God does not try. He tries the rich, to see if they will open their hands to the poor. He tries the poor, to see if they will receive affliction and not murmur. If, therefore, the rich stand in his temptation, and give alms to the poor, he shall enjoy his riches in this world, and his horn shall be exalted in the world to come, and the holy blessed God shall deliver him from the punishment of hell. If the poor stand in his temptation, and do not repine, he shall have double in the world to come.”

“From the forest itself comes the handle of the axe”. (Talmud, Sanhedrin 39b)

No temptation is unprecedented but caused by weakness. The pressure of temptation is always followed by trials. The very branch against which the person committed a wrong is the first to exact retribution from the sinner, as we know from the prophet Yirmiyahu: “Your own wickedness shall correct you, and your backslidings shall reprove you” (Jer 2:19), meaning that the very evil you are guilty of will act as the instrument which will discipline you. The opposite is also true, namely, the source of sanctity once perverted will turn against you to bring you back on the right path. “Beloved ones, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that is coming upon you, to try you, as though some unusual matter has befallen you …” (1Pe 4:12-13). The sole object of all the trials and tests, therefore, is to teach us what we should know that they are not the desired goal but instrumental for our instruction and guidance.

The trials are not instruments for Elohim to test if we would fail or pass, but to remove what stands between Him and us and bring us closer to Him. This is what Mosheh meant when he said, “in order to humble you and to try you, to do you good in the end” (Deu 8:16). So, if we are disciplined in the trials, others will learn. Therefore, what is the purpose of the trials? To lead us to repentance, and the most important element of repentance is to avoid the same sin Elohim has already forgiven. And if we fail in it, sin has not been removed, and the suffering will continue until we pass the test. For unheard prayer is like a desperate cry in the desert wherein there is no one to hear it. The more we cry out, the more desperate we become. Yet we must keep on moving.

With the above in mind, we may now understand the matter of tests and trials. The Eternal judges according to our choices. If we have made our choice, then He judges for this choice, and His plan for us works for this particular choice. If we have made other choice, then the outcome will be different. The Most High does not interfere if man wants to do good or evil. This decision is up to each individual to make. Or as Rabbeinu Bahya says it very well: “If we were not free to chart our own course, it would not make sense for God to have to give us all these commandments. All He would have to do is to program us according to His wishes”. The above is taught in the article Predestination vs Free Will Paradox – Time of Reckoning Ministry.

Knowledge known to only a few will die out. If you feel blessed by these teachings of Time of Reckoning Ministry, help spread the word!

May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days!


This page contains sacred literature and the Name of the Creator. Please, do not deface, discard, or use the Name in a casual manner.