for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (ESV)
Have you ever experience "test anxiety?" The basic understanding is that test anxiety happens to students who study for an exam, are confident in their mastery of the material, but when it comes to the taking of the test they seem to forget everything and are overcome by incredible panic and anxiety. For them, it is one thing to know the information, but quite another to pass the test.
Let's consider your life as a believer in Jesus Christ. You may have studied the Word of God, and you might even be teaching others it's truth. Perhaps you can recite the Apostles Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and know your church's statement of faith word for word. Yet, when real testing of your faith comes your way you all that you know seems to go out the window and you are overwhelmed by anxiety and panic.
Friend, if this is you, please don't beat yourself up. You are in very good company! I can guarantee you that theologians, pastors, and some of the Lord's finest servants have all struggled with spiritual test anxiety. One of my favorite pastors of history is the great Charles Spurgeon. He led thousands to Christ in his lifetime, pastored the largest church in the world at the time, and . . . had spiritual test anxiety. He wrestled with depression for his whole life.
James has some encouragement for all of us. He lets us know that the testing that tends to overwhelm us and lead us to panic and anxiety is for our good. The testing of our faith produces "steadfastness." In other words, if we pass the test we will become stronger and better equipped to face the next one. God does not abandon us during the test, rather he is with us the whole time. In fact, the tests that we receive our "open book" tests. As we look to the Word we will find the answers we need to get through the test and our anxiety will be put into its proper place. The closer we get to Christ the more the anxiety will dissipate.
How are you with tests? Do you have "test anxiety?" Know that the Lord is with you. He will even give you the answers to the test. After all, it is open book!