When You Feel Thoroughly Over-tested

That famous line from the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation,” is sometimes translated as “Do not bring us to the time of testing.” Lately, I’ve been suspecting that either I haven’t prayed that prayer frequently enough/hard enough/sincerely enough, or that God has it on the “answer later” shelf. Not that anything particularly tragic has happened; on the other hand, not much has happened to rate a major celebration, either. Particularly, I’ve been working on expanding my content-writing business for weeks, and so far, not a single new client to validate all that effort.

The test I’m really sick of, though–the one that seems to repeatedly kick me back down just as I’m almost up–comes from the School of Unexpected Course Adjustments. If there’s one thing I personally loathe, it’s a sudden change in my well-laid plans. So what have I gotten at least one of virtually every day for the past three weeks? Technical difficulties with everything from auto-reminders to router connections; rescheduled appointments due to (someone else’s) illness, impassable roads, or last-minute emergency; two-hour projects that drag on for five hours; minor aches and pains that nonetheless trigger “should I see the doctor just in case” worries; you name it, no major frustration is unfit to throw in my path.

Sure, I know all the verses about suffering produces perseverance produces character, and in this world everyone will have trouble, and when I am weak I am strong in Christ, and God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear. I’ve even proved their truth: a year or two ago, I would inevitably go ballistic at the first inconvenience; now I can endure ten in a row with a cool head and an “Oh well” shrug.

Still … that doesn’t seem to do much to prevent the arrival of number 11 when it’s least wanted. Why can’t God, when I get further in patience than ever before, just give me a congratulations and a break right then?

And if even the saints are credited with quotes like “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle; I just wish that He didn’t have so much confidence in me” and “God, considering the way You treat Your friends, it’s no surprise You have so few!” what hope do have for relief from the “time of testing”?

Of course, complete honesty would require admitting that I’ve done my share to deserve it. It wasn’t God who said “yes” to too many things and overloaded my schedule and gave my frustration levels a chance to build up in advance. It wasn’t God who poured that third latte down my throat and let my caffeine and sugar levels rise high into the on-edge zone. It wasn’t God who told me that checking and emptying the e-mailbox was more important than going to the Bible and prayer to “study” for life’s tests. And it wasn’t God who gave me the idea that I had the right to a life full of best-case scenarios–or the right to plan every scenario to the smallest detail.

Little imperfections on my part make big imperfections that make big fusses over small frustrations.

And my instinctive reaction is to strive harder to set the perceived problem right, to plan harder to head off future frustrations, to run faster to force my schedule back into its original boundaries. It’s only when I’m bent over with exhaustion that I slow down enough to realize–all along, God was trying to use those inconveniences as a signal for me to be still, and remember that He is God. The One Who really knows how my day should and will go. The One Who handles all those things I vainly fret and fume over. The One Who is patient with those weaknesses I thought it was up to me to correct instantly.

The One Who is waiting with His peace when I finally admit I can’t make my own.

Leave a comment


  1. This was very insightful. I just heard a Casting Crowns song this morning where the lyrics said, “Quit trying to hold on and just be held.” I like that…but it is so hard to know what I should be doing and what God should be doing. Surely, I am not going to just lay down in the bed and let Him do the rest! I am praying for you as you find that balance!!

    Gina Etherton.gif

  2. janetanncollins

     /  June 19, 2015

    I think most of us can identify.

  3. Erin Whitney

     /  June 20, 2015

    Awesome post! You have a way of describing your experience in its rawest of forms and then distilling it down and then finding and focusing on the beautiful flower that grows from the compost pile. Peace, Erin


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    Need a dose of hope and stress relief? Read my work. Need help sharing hope and stress relief through your own blog? Visit my website, www.HoustonFreelanceWriter.com, and learn about my content-writing services.

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