Identifying Spiritual Tests

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

If you have walked with God for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve seen your share of “various temptations,” tests, or trials. This is God’s strategy for developing spiritual fruit and maturity in us. Even Jesus tested the disciples at various times, and they didn’t always pass the tests! That should give us hope…

Today, I want to help you identify the spiritual tests you may be experiencing now or may have gone through in the past. And to understand God’s purpose behind these trials.

What exactly is a trial?

According to, a trial is a trying, distressing, or annoying thing; an affliction or trouble. In addition, trying means something that is extremely annoying and difficult. Annoy means to disturb or bother in a way that displeases, troubles, or irritates

Ok, after reading those definitions, you probably discovered there are more trials in your life than you realized!

God is using those things (ie people, situations) that annoy you to grow you. That’s all there is to it. It’s not about praying for them to change, but praying for God to change us and grow us through the tough times.

Years ago Joyce Meyer shared this list on her program:

Spiritual Test List

Difficult Situations
People who attempt to lead us astray
Great sacrifices
Divine delays
Suffer in duty
Permitting temptation
Requiring things that don’t make sense
Stripping away natural things that could help us
Require us to depend on others
Requiring our last morsel of bread
Extensive preparation for things you don’t see yet

What a relief it was for me to see that these difficult situations actually had a purpose! And to realize I wasn’t being punished. God allows difficult seasons in our lives for his greater good. He really does have a reason, and it’s found in James 1:4: “…that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.”

Our joy in times of testing comes from knowing God is working in and through us using every annoyance and disappointment to draw us closer to Him. He wants nothing more than to see us trusting Him in every situation.

I wrote the following in my journal recently. Feel free to print or copy it and post it where it can remind you to trust Him even in your season of testing!

The trials in my life are to perfect me and develop my faith, steadfastness, and patience. This is God’s purpose in the process. Every trial, every annoyance, every disturbance or difficulty, every person, place or thing that annoys, frustrates or bothers me…I will consider it all joyful!

Add a Comment