The tabletop test

In his book What Good Is God?, Phillip Yancey examines whether it makes any real difference if we believe or don’t believe in God in times of suffering.

Yancey starts with an example of “tabletop tests” in Silicone Valley where new products such as phones and MP3 players are placed on a tabletop and deliberately crashed to the ground to see if they still work in the real world

Yancey looked for similar tests in the realm of faith. He visited crisis points in the world – South Africa, the Middle East and India -and talked to groups of outcasts, prisoners, alcoholics and prostitutes. “When I spend time with these people, my own faith undergoes a tabletop test.,” he said

“It is one thing to say, Well, God is good because I live in a nice suburban home and my children are all Olympic athletes and doing well in school. But what good is God if you are in a prison being persecuted for your faith? That is to me the tabletop test of faith.”

He concluded that faith was about hope. Not a hope that we are going to live a problem-free existence, because that is not going to happen. “It is the hope that God is with us in these testing times of faith and that they can be redeemed, that good can be wrought out of them.”

“I’ve been privileged to see God at work.
“I have found that a time of pain and suffering can be a time when we are forced to stop in our tracks and ask ourselves what really matters.”


35 thoughts on “The tabletop test

  1. The most important lesson that I have learned in my times of suffering, is the knowledge and reassurance that God has promised to never leave us or forsake us, ever!

    “……for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” Hebrews 13:5 AMP


      • hi Dabbles,

        /Actually, I’ve read that though Christians were certainly fed to the lions (and to the gladiators) in certain arenas and circuses round the Roman empiere, , there is absolutely no authentic record of any Christians being slaughtered in the Colosseum itself.



      • That’s interesting….and also a good example of easy it is to slide into a ‘conventional’ mindset that can stay with us through life. Not always for the good, either.
        It’s worth being reminded occasionally that we’re never to old to learn.


    • Isn’t that the quote graffiti-ed on the walls of the Colosseum on Lion-Feeding Day?
      ….or was it the gas-chambers?
      There are so many possibilities I always forget……..


    • All the Romans at the Colosseum are long dead. The victims that went shortly before them may well be learning what that verse means now.


      • yep!……or they MAY be screaming in everlasting agony in the fiery torture-chambers operated by the One True God, Gurklezimmer, for having worshipped the wrong gods, to cite Homer.. 😯


  2. …..for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” Hebrews 13:5 AMP
    That is impossible for got to do, to leave us or forsake us, since it is her/him experiencing itself in us. Thus is it also impossible to prove god’s existence to the outside observer because it is god on the inside looking out.
    If people knew this great truth, life would take totally different form in the physical Universe. AAs long as we looking for god on the outside of us, we never find it.


    • No Fossal you are not correct. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus said that whatever we have done to His brethren we have done it to Him, in the context of Him identifying with His suffering followers. Mark 3:35 tells us that those who do the will of God are part of His family.
      In fact the Bible makes it clear that it is the Holy Spirit that dwells in us, not the Father and not the Son.


      • I am familiar with the bible davinci. I read it in Hebrew as well in English. I didn’t learn Greek. I found many things contradicting the English translations. Not important though. If we read in the spirit, we read the truth, our understanding will be growing past the letter of the book. After all it says “The Letter kills, but the spirit gives life.”
        Let the words printed on piece of paper be translated to you by the spirit. Be cautious about the intellectual understanding, as the mind can not find god. The mind has the role to ask questions and take us to the door, but it can not pass true that door. Bit like the story of Moses leading the Jews into the promised land. He was also not permitted to enter. A coincidence perhaps? Don’t think so. The first understanding of the bible is the historical one, but there are many more layers after that. In fact as we grew in spiritual maturity, new and more powerful meanings are unearthed to us. But we must be still and stop the mind from thinking it can find our. Revelations come from spirit, the soul within you. No other way. Be still and know I am god. You are not sinners, let that go, the church wants you to believe that so it can keep you under control. If you know Jesus, you know god. But then who is this Jesus. Not a man of the past.


      • Yes Fossal, you read the Bible and you have not understood anything from it. Rom. 8:7 says that the ‘carnal mind’ (read unconverted mind) is enmity against God. Whereas John 3:3 says that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. These verses reiterate the fact that:
        “… the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14.
        You might have read the Bible in whatever language you claim to have read it but because you have not responded to the promptings of the Holy Spirit you cannot appreciate or even understand the things you have read.


      • But have it your own way fossal – how do you know whether your experiences are of God or of Satan? What is the Tabletop test that determines whether your experiences are genuine or not? After all Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light, and the Bible says that he will try to deceive even the elect.


    • davinci,

      Hm, I know that being a false prophet and all that, I’m not supposed to pronounce on such things, but I seem to recall none other than Paul stating the ‘Secret is Christ in me!’



      • Hi Rian,

        I found this explanation helpful:

        “In John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. and Rom. 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him we see the indwelling of God as a Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all said to dwell in the believer. This is the mystery and the wonder of God as a Trinity.

        Col. 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, shows us that in Jesus dwells God, bodily. Eph. 3:19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. shows us that Christians are indwelt by God through the Holy Spirit. They are different.

        Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am,” (John 8:58).”



      • to admit that we are the hosts of god is one of the hardest things. Especially since the religions of the world (all religions) call it heresy. I could quote whole number of scriptures, but I didn’t arrive at this knowing from bible. I arrived by personal experience. At that we know that we know. When god manifests itself within us there is no doubt anymore. Even if that experience pass and we become just a normal being, we never lose that knowing.
        Perhaps good time to mention why god recognises neither good nor evil. To know who we are, we must experience who we are not. In other words we need to experience the total opposite. In having that experience we than know the value of who we are. In order to know love we experiencing at some point hate.
        How else would we know the difference? In the realm of spirit we know everything, conceptually. Here in the realm of physical existence, we know it experientially. Having experienced it we become. Every living soul must experience the full colour pallet of being.
        Church is an illusion for the just born. The truth about spirit is not preached in churches. This truth is not preached at all. It is found only by real desire, burning desire to know god. God who is neither male or female, god who was not and will never be. God who simply is. Never in the past, nor in the future. And never away from you. Always present, always speaking to you, are you listening?
        The mystery of this realm would surprise you and most of you won’t believe it. God has provided the safest possible way to experience that which is not. To find it you must awake from slumber though.
        Marry Christmas to all.
        Love Paul


  3. As I read the above, you’re all avoiding the issue that matters.
    What’s the point of ‘gott mit uns’ (or otherwise) if he not only doesn’t divert the T34 about to grind you to slush but, as the record shows, is actively supergluing your feet to the ground.?
    With friends like that, who needs enemies?

    Better by far:- God helps those who help themselves.


  4. It’s obvious this yoyo:-
    “I have found that a time of pain and suffering can be a time when we are forced to stop in our tracks and ask ourselves what really matters.”
    …..has no idea what “pain and suffering” is!

    At times of REAL pain and suffering ~ either his own or another’s ~only a fool has any priority other than alleviating it
    …..or a masochist, of course.


    • Quite right, Dabs. It’s often many years after the pain and suffering we come to see it really was a blessing in disguise. We may see it as having blessed this life, but if that is beyond understanding, there is far more to existence than this life.

      The fact that God can bring good out of evil is no excuse for us to go around committing evil, though! Our mandate is to love.


      • ????? Are you suggesting there are more immediately important things than alleviating pain and suffering on the basis that ‘years later’ we may get a useful message out of it ~ or see it as a blessing??

        ,,,,,Sort of like bashing your wife and kids ‘for their own good’, right?

        Even our mongrel-bred laws demand we go the the aid of people rather than let them ‘learn a lesson’ from being mangled in a traffic-accident, say.

        But perhaps I misunderstand?
        …I hope.


      • Definitively and semantically (“The fact that God can bring good out of evil”..),
        no he can’t.


    • “The fact that God can bring good out of evil is no excuse for us to go around committing evil, though! Our mandate is to love.”

      I could never suffer the things again that I have in the past, yet now am grateful for the good that eventuated. But you are twisting words Dabs, of course we need to do all we can to alleviate pain and suffering!

      You wily fellow, if one really doesn’t believe in any concept of God, one can’t believe he/it/them could bring good out of evil. 😆

      And that’s NOT saying he/it/them NEEDS evil in order to convert it to good!


      • You’re catching on, Dreamweaver!
        However, the point was that there’s no real lineal connection/cause and effect between ‘good and evil’ as your final sentence makes clear.

        …..and do keep in mind that I don’t ‘believe in’ evil, either. 😉

        ps. Though I do like the way you think, you might ‘suffer worse than you did in the past’ if you continue to say things like:- “And that’s NOT saying he/it/them could bring good out of evil. ….”
        The Gods of the PC Brigades HAVE been known to display convincingly near-evil tendencies if ‘She’ is neglected! 😯


      • Yes. The word ‘evil’ is used loosely. There was a recent conversation where it was seen that it was often used in scripture to denote ‘hardship’.


  5. John 10:3-5
    The Message (MSG)
    He Calls His Sheep by Name

    10 1-5 “Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”


      • Oh boys,

        “In Israel where grass has difficulty growing in the arid soil, sheep must know their shepherd, following him obediently from pasture to pasture. There, shepherding is a much more active task.

        Judith Fain is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Durham. As part of her studies, she spends several months each year in Israel. One day while walking on a road near Bethlehem, Judith watched as three shepherds converged with their separate flocks of sheep. The three men hailed each other and then stopped to talk. While they were conversing, their sheep intermingled, melting into one big flock.

        Wondering how the three shepherds would ever be able to identify their own sheep, Judith waited until the men were ready to say their goodbyes. She watched, fascinated, as each of the shepherds called out to his sheep. At the sound of their shepherd’s voice, like magic, the sheep separated again into three flocks. Apparently some things in Israel haven’t changed for thousands of years.”

        Our Rabbi


      • Please!….”Apparently some things in Israel haven’t changed for thousands of years.”….don’t tempt me!


      • OH Mon!
        How did Judith Fain Ph.D. establish that each shepherd left with the same sheep ~ or number of sheep ~ with which he arrived? 😆
        …or that they’ve been doing this for “thousands of years”??

        Is there any evidence that they didn’t learn the trick, based on the easily-observed fact that sheep follow other SHEEP, not shepherds, from Australian drovers grazing their flocks on the Long Paddock? They’d start off with a few ewes on heat and finish the drive with heepsa sheeps:-

        “So with maiden ewes from Tubbo,
        I passed en route to Dubbo,
        And across the Lig’num country
        ‘where the Barwon waters flow;”

        But none so woolly and willing as Saltbush Bill:-


  6. As I understand the gospels Jesus to teach and intend and do, God is offering ALL peoples welcome union with God and God’s society after our lives on earth. Jesus defines the choice for us to be granted ‘ fellowship ‘ in God’s eternal society to include disavowing and denying and forsaking this earthly material life.

    The gospels Jesus also teaches its God’s will we ALL live by a meaningful reguard for one another, including with animals. God also gave Jesus some ‘ special ‘ powers, among which is the powers to forgive some of ones offences, relative to the needs of the good of all livingkind. Such forgiveness is conditional ; one MUST sincerely believe in God’s will we Love one another, and so then evermore adapt our behaviours to indeed doso.

    The gospels Jesus also asks we believe in him, and this generally refers to the authority Jesus was granted by God to say and do, and teach and ask, we desire and act for our life in the presence of God, and make ourselves Loving and Righteous, including sacrifice, to morally warrant our new life with God.


  7. Seems a rather convoluted test really. Here’s a much more simple one. that everybody is probably familiar with. A basic test of trust. Simply fall backwards and ask God to catch you. See if you hit the floor or not.

    If you could video the results it would be great.


    • Do not tempt the Lord your God! 😆
      God never promised that terrible things would never happen to Christians…infact we are warned that terrible things WILL happen in this world(Matthew 10:17-18)(Matthew 24:3-14)(2 Timothy 3:1-7) , but He promises to give strength to those who lean on HIM. (Philippians 4:13)


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