Faithfulness = Testing

“Hezekiah did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God.., seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.

“After these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah… [Hezekiah] set combat commanders over the people and gathered them… ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and the horde that is with him, for… with him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.’

“After this, Sennacherib sent his servants… to all the people of Judah, saying, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you,.. for no god of any nation has been able to deliver his people from my hand.’  And they shouted [against the Lord and Hezekiah] with a loud voice… to frighten and terrify them… Hezekiah prayed and cried to heaven…

“Then Hezekiah became sick, at the point of death, and he prayed to the Lord, and he answered him. But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem… God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.” 2 Chronicles 31:20-32:1,6-9,15,16,18,20,24-25,31b

There were few as wholehearted as Hezekiah, who reigned over half his life doing right before the Lord. His holy priorities, borne of deep devotion to God, compelled him to lead Judah to renewed, robust worship and generosity; his kingdom was identified by gladness and abundance. And then, as God often orchestrates, tests came. Would he remain faithful in plenty and success? (2 Chronicles 30:26-27; 31:3,5-8; 32:27-30)

When Sennacherib attacked, by armies and taunts, he did. He prepared, encouraged his people in the Lord, and prayed. When he was stricken with a fatal illness, he begged for mercy, and God granted it.

Was it this improbable healing that softened his holy resolve? Did a sense of desert admit the pest of pride? His next test was met with diminished devotion. Self had put its foot in the door of his heart, and proved its brawn stubborn and ugly. When Babylonian envoys arrived, suddenly he took credit for his riches and success, giving full display to his tainted nature. By God’s grace, his conscience was quickened and he acknowledged his pride, but not without consequences. The son born to him during this season brought great evil and shame on Judah. (2 Kings 20:12-18; 2 Chronicles 32:26; 33:9; Jeremiah 26:19)

The Lord our Maker wants our whole heart. Always. He made us for Himself, to bear His image. He doles out bounty and brings low; He apportions graces as He sees fit. Throughout our lives, He tests us to reveal what is inside: what drives us, eats at us, enhances or deteriorates our intimacy with Him. How are we testing? (Genesis 1:27-28; Daniel 2:21; Romans 12:3)

When we encounter temptations, roadblocks, or detours, do they set off anger, or greater dependence? Do sorrows and broken dreams deplete our faith, or spur love and gratitude for Jesus, and lead us to deeper lessons? When circumstances change, how do we change? (Hebrews 12:4-11; James 1:3-4)

Father, please guard and bolster my faithfulness in Your every test. May my faith come out as gold, to reflect Your glory. (Job 23:10)

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