Jeremiah’s portrayal of a potter reworking a piece of marred clay is an early example of a quality control test. Jesus’ encounter with the Woman at the Well is a story about someone grimly tested in a difficult life – we don’t know why she had had so many relationships or why they failed, but we can imagine the pain and emotional wreckage. Without God she was seriously off the rails – a broken person.
Strangely, broken people are often God’s best candidates. They know only too well what doesn’t work for them, and they know their need of something beyond themselves. Going it in their own strength hasn’t worked for them, and they know it.
If you drive a recent car, it offers you a much higher degree of crash protection than cars made 20 or 30 years ago. Nowadays they are designed to crumple and absorb impact – and your model will have been submitted to Thatcham vehicle testing and ‘crashed’ under controlled conditions, to receive its safety ratings. Those tests are designed to cause failure – but failure is helpful to show what happens, when and to make design improvements that enhance safety for all of us.
Does God cause the tests?
There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there He tested them.Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.
Psalm 7:9Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,and may You establish the righteous —You who test the minds and hearts,O righteous God!
1 Thess. 2:4…just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
James 1:2-3Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
- Jesus told her He needed her help; at this point this Samaritan woman, who was used to rejection, knew that she was accepted.
- He explained how she could know God in a real way, the experience of receiving living water in a heavenly relationship. She became a true worshipper
- He introduced Himself as the Messiah of God; this was something she could see for herself, and at this point she gained a new identity. She who was a despised nobody became a somebody, who had personally met with the Messiah.
- Acceptance (unconditional love)
- Being reminded of who you are: child of God, friend of Jesus, known by Him personally
- Close to God through worship