Life presents us with many challenges; but by passing our tests, we prepare ourselves for receiving Hashem’s blessings. The key to recognizing a test is to remember that everything comes from Hashem and there is none other than Hashem! Everything that happens to us is His Divine Will!
In M’silas Y’sharim, it states, “Kol inyanei ha’olam, nisyonos heim la’adam – All the matters in this world, all are tests for man.” The Chafetz Chaim tells us that the reason Hashem sends us hardships is “…in order to test you, to do good for you in your end.” It is very easy to have faith in Hashem when everything is going well in your eyes. The real test is when things seem not to go as well. Are we still believers in Hashem? We need to realize that Hashem is always by our side.
The Midrash explains that the Hebrew word “tested,” (nisa), comes from the word neis, which means “flag.” Just as a flag flies high above and identifies an army, so too a test is meant to elevate the person to achieve total devotion to the Ribbono shel Olam.
The Maharal points out that the word “test,” nisayon, comes from the word neis, which means miracle. Just as a miracle is supernatural, one must be willing to act in a supernatural way in order to prevail in the nisayon test. For example, “it is not natural for a father to be willing to slaughter his son. If the Avos had merely been natural people, they could not have risen to the monumental levels that they achieved.”
The Midrash (Sh’mos Rabbah 2:3) explains that Hashem does not give greatness to a man until He tests him with something small. The Midrash goes on to bring two examples: Moshe Rabbeinu and David HaMelech were both tested with a small matter before they were found trustworthy and raised to greatness. Hashem tested David HaMelech and Moshe Rabbeinu with sheep, and he led them into the desert. Moshe Rabbeinu and David HaMelech did not allow their sheep to graze in other people’s pastures, even when no one was looking. Once Moshe Rabbeinu and David HaMelech passed their tests, they were rewarded with ownerless pasture.
In T’hilim (11:4), David HaMelech states: “Hashem is in His Holy Temple, Hashem’s throne is in Heaven, His eyes behold, His eyelids scrutinize mankind.” Rav Avrohom Schorr explains that the eyelids cover the eyes, and it represents darkness: the times that man does not see the hashgachah of Hashem and does not see the eye of Hashem that never closes and is always watching over us (Sefer HaLekach V’HaLibun).
Before Hashem brings us blessing, He first has us withstand tests. Chazal explain that the whole success of the person depends upon his passing tests. In T’hilim, David HaMelech says, “You have given those who fear You trials with which to be tested, in order to beautify [Your behavior] forever (60:6).” Hashem tests the person if he is strong enough so that he can be trusted for Hashem’s special missions.