Why Does God Test Us?


In the Gospel reading today, taken from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 15, we encounter a gentile woman from the area of Canaan. She approaches Jesus and asks that he heal her daughter who is “extremely” demon possessed. At first Jesus doesn’t answer. Then after a few moments, realizing that she wasn’t backing down, Jesus explains that he came for the Jewish people and not for the Gentiles. The woman, upon hearing this, pleads with Jesus, by worshiping him and saying, “Lord, help me.” But Jesus answered by way of a metaphor and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She in turn provides a surprising rebuttal: “Yes, even the little dogs eat the crumbs from their master’s table,” showing Jesus how great her faith was. Finally Jesus healed the woman’s daughter at that very moment.

Here, we might be wondering why Jesus responded the way he did. We know for a fact that he is neither prejudice nor bias.  So then, why? We could infer that Jesus is testing the faith of the woman. There are probably other suppositions that could be made, but I think this is the best one. So then what does it mean for God to test us? Test, or testing, is a word that is closely related to temptation, or trial. In other words, when we have trials and temptations in our life, it is a sort of “test” that we go through. The test is there to measure the “quality” of our faith.

God measures our quality of faith by looking at the following areas:

  1. Perseverance: God will look to see if we have the willingness to stick with our faith through the tough times. Persevering means we are not going to let go of our hope in Jesus Christ. Uncomfortable situations make us better, not worse. We attempt to see the light in things that others would only see darkness. That is, such trials refine us, as diamonds pressed in coal, as metal fashioned in fire. The Canaanite woman could have given up; but rather, she persevered and this showed Christ the she was not willing to give up on her daughter.

  2. Obedience: Our quality of faith has a key factor: obedience. Obedience is key to having a good spiritual life. Our society/culture teaches us to be obedient to no one. On the contrary, our Church/Traditions teaches us to be obedient to parents, priest, bishops, etc. Obedience shows God that we are will to listen; and that, we are willing to lay aside our ego/pride for the needs of the Kingdom. Although, obedience was not overt in the narrative of the Canaanite woman, her obedience shows through in her willingness to accept the “crumbs” that Christ was going to throw at her. She could have become mad, anger, frustrated, and yelled or cursed at Jesus for treating her so unfairly. But she didn’t; she was obedience and respectful to Christ.

  3. Genuineness: This basically means, that our “reason” for being a Christian is genuinely about having a relationship with Christ. We are not Christians because, we want to have the best life now, or because it provides us with wealth, health, wisdom or prosperity. Simply put: we are Christians because we love Christ. Testing, sometimes can be there to weed out our disingenuous intentions. For example, we might be focusing on traditions, practices and rituals of the Church and not focusing on a relationship with Christ, and our trials are there to weed that out. Another example could be that going to Church, being a part of community, looks good for our family, but God wants us to go for the right reasons. The Canaanite woman was genuine in her desire to go toward the healing power of Christ. We should do the same.