From Hebrews 2:18 we know that sufferings are the sufferings of temptation: “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” That was how Jesus’ character was developed. It was there in the wilderness of temptation where the Holy Spirit led Him, out with the wild beasts and without food or drink or shelter. He was left there where Satan was able to meet Him face to face, tempting Him with misquoted Scripture, testing His faith, and testing His desires for the things of the world. (See Mark 1:13–15; The Desire of Ages, 114–131.) That is where Jesus’ character was developed. Then, throughout the rest of His life, as the devil met Him step-by-step, He conquered every trial and was a little stronger. Conversely, every time we fail, we are a little weaker.
The children of Israel failed their very first test. They hardly even knew it was a test. So many times our great tests we do not recognize as tests, like the people who were following Gideon. When they came up to the river and lapped the water, they did not realize they were being tested. But God was testing their hearts and testing their fidelity. (See Judges 7:4–7.)
So many times it is the little things of life that test the real character. Thus, it was that way back when Moses was called to lead out the children of Israel. God had revealed to the leaders of Israel that Moses was the man whom He had called. He had put him there in Pharaoh’s household to give him an education. Moses was not quite ready spiritually, but neither were the children of Israel. God tested them, and Moses went out and did the best he could. He was not perfect, of course.
When Moses saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite, his heart went out for the Israelites. As their defender and protector under God, he put his job and his career on the line, trusting everything to the children of Israel. He slew that Egyptian and delivered his people from the tyranny that this Egyptian was inflicting upon them. (See Exodus 2:11, 12.) Moses was not satisfied to just protect the Israelites; he wanted to help them to help themselves. The next day he went back to the slave people, one of whom he was choosing to become. “And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, ‘Why are you striking your companion?’ Then he said, ‘Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ ” Exodus 2:13, 14. They were tested. They were expressing the thoughts of the whole congregation of Israel, and they failed their first test. God did not leave them, although He left them for a while because they had rejected His leadership.
He led Moses out and developed his character for 40 years, but 40 years later Moses returned. He came back a little older and wiser. No longer did he have the kingly robes; no longer did he have all of his youth. He was older; he had less riches; he had less prestige; he was less recognized now than he had once been, but he was the same man.
God Does Not Change
God did not change His plan simply because the people did not like it at first. He gave them another opportunity. Moses returned, and this time he came not with a sword, but with a shepherd’s staff. Shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians. Moses first called the leaders of Israel and said, “God is going to redeem you,” and they told the people so they all knew God’s plans. (See Exodus 4:28–31.)
Then Moses, with Aaron his brother, went and performed some signs in front of Pharaoh. Pharaoh became upset, and he commanded, “The people are lazy. Give them more work to do.” And so he made them work with hardship. He did not provide their straw. (Exodus 5:1–19.)
The people got upset again. They came to Moses and said, “Moses, what are you doing to us? You came to free us, but you are giving us more work. Now look at the mess we are in.” (Verses 20–23.) They were not able to go through a little trial, trusting in the Lord to bring them through. They failed their second test.
Every test they failed led them to fail the next test, but God kept coming back, giving them opportunity after opportunity. When you fail the Lord, the most wonderful thing in the world is to have another opportunity to succeed.
Are you glad the Lord does not leave you when you fail? How wonderful that is! It gives you another opportunity to succeed, but the next opportunity is just a little different, a little harder many times. It comes in a little different way, but there it is, all unexpected; while you are going about your daily activities, there is the opportunity.
Count It A Joy
In James 1:2–4, we know, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” This is God’s great purpose for every one of us. “Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children.” Education, 18.
As it was with the people of Noah’s day and with the children of Israel, so God is doing today. He is coming soon, much sooner than any of us can imagine. We are going to awaken one day to the startling realization that all the days of peace and prosperity are behind us, and we are in the time of final events. Then we are going to question whether or not our characters are ready. It will be too late then. The character takes a process of time to develop. Today is the day that we have to develop character, not tomorrow. Today Jesus is testing us to see if we will stand. He is giving us opportunity to develop our characters, and today is the only day we will ever have.
Jesus said that many people believe that they are His disciples—those who have eaten and drunk in His presence, partaken of the Lord’s Supper and listened to the words of God being spoken week by week, day by day—and that they are saved because they have followed all the rituals. In Luke 13:23, someone came to Jesus asking, “Lord, are there only going to be a few people saved? Certainly God’s grace is sufficient for all. Are there only going to be a few people saved?” He had been listening to Jesus’ sermons, and the more he listened, the more he became concerned. It sounded like there were not going to be a lot of people saved, so he had to know the answer to this question.
Jesus said, “Strive to enter in through the narrow gate, for many, I say, will seek to enter but will not be able to. When once the Master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence.’ ” Verses 24–26. What do You mean You do not know us? We partook of the Lord’s Supper. We read the Bible and drank of the spiritual drink just like the children of Israel did there in the wilderness. You taught in our streets. We heard Your representatives speak week after week.
“But He will say unto you, ‘I tell you I do not know who you are. I do not know where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves cast out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” Verses 27–30.
How many today, like the Hebrews who left Egypt and the workers in Noah’s day, are professing to be followers of God, professing to be His people, professing a religious experience, but they are not going through the character development necessary for heaven; they are not conquering day by day each and every trial that God allows to come upon them? In heaven there will not be one jarring word spoken. There will not be one unkind remark, not one proud thought.
As I look at myself, I have to ask again, “How will I ever make it?” But I have learned the answer. God asks me to simply live one day at a time. Just today. Every day He gives me a clean sheet, and He says, “This is your opportunity. This day is your opportunity.” He gives me that one day to work on my character. That is all I need to do. I do not have to take care of tomorrow’s problems or the next day’s problems or next week’s problems.
Some people say, “I do not think I can live a life like this. I cannot do it. I just do not know how long I can last. I do not know how much more of this I can take.”
And God says, “Just try to take what there is today. Just try to last today. Survive today. That is all that is required of you.”
God is the One who will renew our strength each day. We will never run out of strength as long as we live one day at a time. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, the promise is given, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear [it].” God has promised to renew our strength day by day. 11 Corinthians 10:4 says, “For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
Ellen White gave much counsel regarding this:
“We need to trust in Jesus daily, hourly. He has promised that as our day is, our strength shall be. By His grace we may bear all the burdens of the present and perform its duties. But many are weighed down by the anticipation of future troubles. They are constantly seeking to bring tomorrow’s burdens into today. Thus a large share of all their trials are imaginary. For these, Jesus has made no provision. He promises grace only for the day. He bids us not to burden ourselves with the cares and troubles of tomorrow.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 200.
“The Christian life is a battle and a march. It is to work for today and not for tomorrow. It is to do the duties of today; it is, when you rise in the morning, to think, now I am wholly dependent upon God, and I will ask him to take care of me; and when I ask him to take care of me today, I believe that he will do so. I will lay my burden of care, and my troubles at the feet of Jesus, and he will gather them up. You must trust in his love; and if he has given you a small work, take that up, and do it today; and if you have been faithful in doing that little work today, tomorrow you will be capable of bearing a greater responsibility, and of doing a greater work; and he will give you a greater work and responsibility to bear on the morrow.” The Signs of the Times, January 31, 1878.
“We have only to live one day at a time, and if we get acquainted with God, he will give us strength for what is coming tomorrow, grace sufficient for each day, and every day will find its own victories, just as it finds its trials. We shall have the power of the Highest with us; for we shall be clad with the armor of Christ’s righteousness. We have the same God that has worked for his people in ages past. Jesus stands by our side, and shall we falter?—No, as the trials come, the power of God will come with them. God will help us to stand in faith on his word, and when we are united, he will work with special power in our behalf.” Review and Herald, April 29, 1890.
“We are to live only one day at a time. We do not have to do the work of a life-time in a few hours. We need not look into the future with anxiety; for God has made it possible for us to be overcomers every day, and he will give needed grace, that we may be conquerors. I am glad we have only a day at a time in which to work. We should not undervalue its responsibilities, and devote it to the service of the enemy.” Ibid., March 26, 1889.
You see, the children of Israel were always looking to the future, but the little trials that came each day they did not even recognize as great tests of their lives. Sometimes the greatest tests of our lives come in so subtly and so quietly we do not recognize them. We just slip into some transgression, some hasty speech, some impatience, and we have failed the test of that day. We do not recognize it.
Do you know what the great test was for the children of Israel when Jesus came? The great test was when those lowly shepherds came and announced the Messiah. They did not recognize it. It was just a baby there in Bethlehem, and these were some ignorant, uneducated shepherds that were coming with the message. Who were they? If God really had a message, certainly it would come through the leaders. But that was their test. That was the great test of the children of Israel. Because they failed that test, they were given another test, which they later failed with Anna and Simeon in the temple. And then, a year or two later, they failed the test when the wise men came. After failing the third test, they were ready to fail the next one when John the Baptist came. Every test failed led them to fail the next one. `
God has a test for you and me today. We may not recognize it, but I guarantee that there is some test for us today. That is the test of eternity. It is the daily tests that come today that develop our characters for all eternity. “We should not spend it [the day] in arraying ourselves in fashionable attire, in decorating our homes as if we were to be permanent dwellers upon the earth. We should employ its moments in trading with our intrusted [sic] talents, in using our ability to glorify God, instead of glorifying ourselves. Our whole study should be how we may win the approbation of God. If we are doing His will, with an eye single to His glory, we shall be able to say, ‘ “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” [Job 19:25.] Though heart and flesh should fail, Jesus lives to be my strength and my portion forever.’ One who is ever faithful and true among those who are changeable and false, will be our stay, and will prosper us in all we undertake. We shall find, as we seek to please God, that there is One who is working for us, even He whose name is ‘Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.’ [Isaiah 9:6.]” Ibid.
“The work of transformation from unholiness to holiness is a continuous one. Day by day God labors for man’s sanctification, and man is to co-operate with Him, putting forth persevering efforts in the cultivation of right habits. He is to add grace to grace; and as he thus works on the plan of addition, God works for him on the plan of multiplication. Our Saviour is always ready to hear and answer the prayer of the contrite heart, and grace and peace are multiplied to His faithful ones. Gladly He grants them the blessings they need in their struggle against the evils that beset them.” The Acts of the Apostles, 532.
Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington state, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.