I went to school a long time. A long, long time to be exact. I had hoped when I graduated from kindergarten that I was finished with school. As I have mentioned before, perhaps often, I hated school. I would have happily been done after kindergarten, but alas, the state and my parents said no. What that means in the short story version is that I had to have nightmares for many years. They started young and kept on going well into graduate school. It was the last day of the year and I couldn’t find my classroom. I didn’t know the assignment. I wasn’t ready for the test! I would fail!
To finish my master’s and doctorate degrees I decided to take them by extension. There were no classrooms to find. The nightmares stopped. The test taking didn’t stop, but the nightmares did. Fortunately there were a lot more papers to write, though, and fewer tests to take. I like to write. It’s easy-peasy for me to take a class requiring writing. Test anxiety is a real problem for many people. As a school teacher I tried to be alert to those who visibly suffered from the disorder and give them alternatives to the test.
But life is full of tests. They are certainly a different kind of test than the kind that requires someone to know the Plantagenet kings in order. Tests do exist, however, in all manner of ways in life. Our patience can be tried by children, employees or bosses, the long lines at the store or bad drivers. Our endurance can be tested by our sergeants, our trainers, our employers and others. Our honesty can be tested by the absolutely unclear directions on tax forms. We may end up breaking under the strain of some of these tests and responding incorrectly to the demands placed upon us.
There is one kind of test that really is, however, good for us. It is the testing of our faith. The testing of our faith works patience and peace in our lives. It doesn’t always work those things at that particular time, but it will pay off later. As we go along in life and find new and different tests to confront our lives, the patience and peace learned in the past will sustain us in the floods to come and all the tests that confront us each day. Ambrose wrote this hymn of exultant faith 1600 years ago. It is still true today.
’Twas thus the yearning faith of saints, the unconquered hope that never faints,
The love of Christ that knows not shame, the prince of this world overcame.
In these the Father’s glory shone; in these the will of God the Son;
In these exults the Holy Ghost; through these rejoice the heavenly host.
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