We experience many different kinds of tests throughout life. Some tests reveal what is in our hearts and what God will be working on in us. Some tests reveal what God has already done, oftentimes without our being aware of it. Compare it to getting a flat bicycle tire fixed. First the bike shop worker puts the inflated inner tube under water to reveal the leak. Then, after he repairs the tube, he does not put it back on the bike. He reinflates it and puts it under water again, only this time the test has a different purpose. It reveals if the patch worked.
The tests we face in life fit in these two categories— those that reveal what needs to change in us, and those that prove what God has already accomplished in us— with one exception: the tests we don’t know we are in. I half jokingly tell people that if they know they are in a test, it is an easy one because it is an open book test. It is the tests you don’t know you are in that are the most difficult.
In 2 Kings 13: 18, the prophet Elisha told the king of Israel to strike the ground with arrows. The king took arrows and struck the ground three times. The prophet became angry and told him that if he had struck the ground five or six times, he would have annihilated the enemy. But now Israel would have only three temporary victories.
I am sure the king must have wanted to take that test over once he knew what the prophet was looking for. Let’s face it— it is not hard to hit the ground with arrows, a hundred times if necessary. But the prophet was not looking for the king’s ability to hit the ground. He was looking for the measure of passion the king would express for his assignment even when he was not given a reason behind it. The prophet gave the king a test without providing a detailed explanation because he knew that whatever was in the king’s heart would come to the surface in this assignment. Passionless leaders cost everyone who follows them.