Many times while I was growing up, I heard people say things like, “Life is a test.” and “God tests us,” and things along those lines. Though the word “test” is not in the scriptures, there are verses which use words of similar meaning, so I guess that’s where people get the idea:
Exodus 16:4 Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
Abraham 3:25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
Ether 12:6 … I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
1Corinthians 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
Now in school, I was an “A” student. I mostly made “A” grades. If I ever received a lower grade, even a “B,” I felt that I had failed. Though I knew there were other kids who would be happy to have a “B” to me, 80% was failing because it was not 100%. I liked to get 100% on everything I turned in. Many times I would get back a test or an assignment and my score would be marked 98% or 95% and the 1 or 2 questions I had answered incorrectly would be marked. Those mistakes bothered me. I did not like to get even 1 question wrong and those red marks on my papers were like a physical pain to me. I would obsess about them and go over and over my wrong answers in my mind.
Similarly, through my life, I have kept in my mind a sort of spiritual report card. And sometimes I would think back to all the times I imagined I had failed the tests of life. I would count up my “F” grades and feel like a terrible failure as a daughter and a friend and wife and mother and as a child of God.
Then there was a time when I needed a specific answer from God about a thing related to my calling (the children I was teaching at church). I was really concerned that I get the right answer, and often when I prayed, I would worry that I would misunderstand what He was trying to tell me through the Holy Spirit. So I had kind of put off praying about this thing that I really needed an answer about, because I didn’t want to get it wrong.
Finally the time came that I really could not procrastinate any more. As I knelt down to pray, I had gotten myself so worked up in fear that I was actually trembling. As I began my prayer, suddenly to my mind came the kindest words:
IT’S NOT A TEST
I stopped in surprise and pondered over those words, and the strongest feeling of peace and love flooded over me. I realized some things. I realized that God loves His children even more than I do, and that He wanted them to be successful. I realized that He would speak to me in a way that I could understand so that His children could learn what they needed to learn in church and be successful. I realized that He wants me to be successful too.
Life is not a test the way I used to think. All those “F’s” I was collecting, those are washed away, erased by the Atonement of Jesus Christ when I repent. They are no more. I think that our life report card looks a lot more like the report card my kindergartener brings home. It says stuff like “Beginning,” “Progressing,” and “Haven’t worked on that Yet.”
If life is a test, then it is an open book test. It is like when I help my kiddie pies with their homework. I sit down with them and we read through the problem together. I don’t tell them the answer, but I say things like “have you thought about it this way?” or “did you try this?” I never suggest to my kids to try something that won’t work, and I stay with them as long as they are willing to keep trying.
If we will go to Him in prayer, God will go over our problems and fears with us. Through His Holy Spirit, He will inspire us to think about our problems in a different way. He will prompt us to try something we hadn’t thought of yet, or encourage us to try something we knew we should do, but were too afraid to try. He will stay with us as long as we keep coming back to Him.
If there is a test, it is not to see if you will be perfect and never make a mistake. There is no test to see if you can do life all by yourself.
The test is, Will you ask God for help?
Will you try to follow the answer He gives you?
Do you have faith to do what the scriptures tell you to do, even if it’s hard or doesn’t seem like it will work?
Will you turn to Jesus Christ for help? Will you let his Grace work in your life?
The peace that this realization has brought to my life has been so wonderful.
Matthew 7:12 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.