When God Tests Us

Yael Eckstein  |  September 8, 2021

The Sacrifice of Isaac with angel in background

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
— Genesis 22:1

Today, my family joins Jews around the world in celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. As these are non-working holidays, these devotions have been prepared in advance for you.

When’s the last time you learned something new about yourself? It’s easy to think that we know everything about our own capabilities — our strengths, weaknesses, and limits. But then something happens in our lives that forces us to learn a lesson about our own potential.

When my father Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein died unexpectedly, many years earlier than anyone expected, I was thrust into just such a situation. I knew that my father wanted me to assume the leadership of The Fellowship when he stepped down, but neither of us expected that day to come so soon.

While I knew that God had prepared me for my new position, I didn’t feel quite ready for such a great responsibility. My father’s untimely passing pushed me to my limits and there were many moments that I wondered why God was testing me in this way.

When God Tests Us

But, of course, God knows us much better than we know ourselves. When He tests us, it isn’t because He wants to learn something about us. It’s because He wants us to learn something about ourselves.

On Rosh Hashanah instead of reading the weekly Torah portion, the special reading for the day is the story of the binding of Isaac by Abraham. God commanded Abraham to take his beloved son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice.

Besides the obvious emotional test to Abraham as a loving father, this command made no logical sense. After all, God had already told Abraham that Isaac would become the father of a great nation. How could he become the father of a nation if he would be killed as a sacrifice? It’s hard to imagine a greater test of faith.

But when God tested Abraham, it wasn’t because God questioned Abraham’s faith. God knew that Abraham would pass the test with flying colors. God tested Abraham because He wanted Abraham to know the strength of his own faith.

When God tests us, He doesn’t learn anything new about us. We do.

Your Turn:

Listen to my new “Conversations with Yael” podcast that airs throughout September, featuring Fellowship Board Chairman Bishop Paul Lanier as we discuss, among other topics, the High Holy Days and the relevance these holy observances have for Christians today.