Does God sometimes test our faith by letting hard times happen to us? If so, why does He do it? Doesn't He already know whether or not our faith is genuine? — Mrs. K.F.
Sometimes God does test our faith, just as He tested the faith of the ancient Israelites by allowing them to go through hard times in the wilderness, "in order to know what was in your heart" (Deuteronomy 8:2).
Remember: If our faith is weak, it may not be obvious when life is going smoothly and we aren't challenged in any way. But when hard times come, a weak faith will be revealed for what it really is: shallow and unable to help us through life's difficulties. It may be anything: an unexpected illness, the death of a loved one, the loss of our job, or even a friend who turns against us. But when hard times happen, the true nature of our faith will be revealed.
But God doesn't test us because He doesn't know how strong we are.
Instead, He tests us because we don't know how strong we are -- and we'll only realize it when times of testing come. The psalmist prayed, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts" (Psalm 139:23).
None of us likes to go through hard times (and God isn't necessarily behind them, even if He does allow them). But God can use them to show us our weaknesses. And when that happens, we need to ask God to help our faith grow. Testing should make us spiritually stronger -- and it will as we turn it over to God. The Bible says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials ... so that you may be mature and complete" (James 1:2, 4).