Passing Grades in God’s School

May 20, 2021

By Maria Fontaine

Audio length: 5:49
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“God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill His promises, leading us along the best and straightest paths to Himself.”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Life is often likened to going to school, and that can serve as a good analogy. God allows all sorts of things in our lives to test us, to see how we’ll react to them, to teach us lessons, and to help us to grow spiritually. His purpose, of course, is that we’ll benefit from what we experience, apply ourselves, take the lessons to heart, learn from them, and live up to our full potential. In short, life’s tests are designed by Him to help us to become the people He wants to make us and knows we can be.

One of the things that God uses to bring us along, believe it or not, is our weaknesses. Everyone has their share of weaknesses. God allows them for different reasons, according to what He knows we need and will bring about the greatest good in our lives. Among other things, they teach us humility, patience, compassion, and other virtues; they teach us the power of prayer, which helps us to live closer to God and become more dependent on Him; and they help us to better understand others, thereby putting us in a better position to empathize and help them through their problems and tests. Our weaknesses are meant to help us, and they do every time we learn from them and draw near to Him through them.

If you have a weakness that you are dealing with, the first step is to acknowledge that it is a problem, and the next step is to determine to do something about it, to work to overcome that weakness with God’s help. Once you take those two steps, it becomes easier for you to recognize the problem when it crops up—and therein lies the test. Will you try to tough it out, trying to overcome the problem in your own strength, or will you turn to God for help?

The right thing, of course, is to ask God for help, because God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, and He can do things that are humanly impossible. The Bible is full of promises on that score, promises like, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,”1 and “I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”2 God can and wants to help you find His strength to overcome your weaknesses, He wants to see you pass the tests, and He will help you if you ask Him to.

He’ll help you, but He won’t make it too easy by giving you the answers to a test in advance. That wouldn’t be a test. In fact, overcoming longstanding weaknesses is rarely a matter of passing a single test. It’s more like taking a course. A student who wants to become proficient in a certain subject has to study hard and be drilled over and over, often taking a number of tests before the final exam. But after he passes the course, he has those lessons down pat. He graduates from that grade or level and moves on to another. It can be similar in the school of life.

Once you’ve applied yourself and passed a certain course, then God doesn’t need to keep giving you the same tests over and over. He may occasionally pop a quiz on you as a refresher, but if you’ve already passed the course and retained what you learned, the refresher won’t seem nearly as difficult or demanding as the original test—just difficult enough to help keep you up to date and your skills sharp.

It doesn’t matter whether the test is great or small. What is important to God is your willingness to accept each test as it comes and to trust that He knows what He’s doing in bringing it along. He understands your heart. He understands what you need to keep growing. He understands what your spirit needs, and He knows exactly how to nurture and strengthen it.

So the next time you find yourself struggling with some personal weakness, instead of giving in to it or feeling overwhelmed or that life is too hard, take it as a challenge. Choose to learn from it, and trust that by His grace, you’ll soon find yourself moving forward in His school of life.

An important factor in embracing the process is being confident in how much Jesus loves you, which will be a stabilizing force in your life. When you are assured of His love for you, when you are aware that He is intimately concerned about your welfare and happiness, that knowledge will give you peace in your heart and steady you, even when you face challenges, disappointments, heartbreaks, difficulties, or anything else that life sends your way.

His love is the only thing in the world that is absolutely perfect and unfailing. There are a lot of things that are nice, beautiful, and wonderful, but nothing is perfect like His love. He is perfect, and so is His love. It’s durable, dependable, and forever!

Compiled from the writings of Maria Fontaine. Adapted and republished May 2021.
Read by Carol Andrews.

1 Matthew 19:26.

2 Jeremiah 32:27.

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