The Purpose of God’s Tests

Yael Eckstein  |  October 28, 2020

God show Abraham the stars to explain the magnitude of his descendants.

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. — Genesis 12:4-5

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Lech Lecha, which means “go to yourself,” from Genesis 12:1–17:27.

When my husband and I moved to Israel, one of the things that we had to do in the process of becoming Israelis was to take a driving test in order to receive our Israeli driver’s license. These tests are notoriously hard, and plenty of good drivers with decades of experience have failed. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been driving for forty years. When you get behind that wheel, you are a teenager again and you have to convince the instructor that you are a capable driver. Thankfully, we passed!

Unlike driving tests, however, when God gives us a test in life, He already knows what we are capable of accomplishing. God knows everything — the past, the present, and the future. God sees straight into our hearts and knows exactly who we are and what we can achieve. So what is the purpose of  God’s tests? He already knows that we can pass the test!

In this week’s Torah portion, we learn that Abraham faithfully followed God to the land of Canaan. According to the Jewish sages, this was the first of ten tests that God gave to Abraham. The purpose of God’s tests — and all tests in life — is not so that God can know what we are capable of, but so that we will know what we are able to do. We will know, without a doubt, that we can pass God’s test.

Everyone is born with potential to be great. However, potential on its own is worthless. It is only when we actualize our potential that it becomes meaningful. Tests are an effective method for bringing out our potential and making it real.

A person may be born with the capacity to have faith, but it is only once he is tested that he becomes a man of faith. Or maybe someone is born with an ability to be a rock for others, but it is only when she is tested that she becomes a woman of strength.

Jewish tradition teaches that God only gives us tests that we are capable of passing. Every trial that we face is an opportunity to become the amazing person God knew we were all along.

Your turn:

Think of your greatest challenge today and consider what you might learn or how you might improve in order to overcome it. Be confident that you can pass the test!