From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 2 – A closer look at how God develops us as disciples
If you want to be successful as a disciple and to grow as quickly and as far as possible, then you will need to come to terms with the fact that God carries out these ongoing quality control tests. Stop being surprised, perplexed or annoyed by them and just seek to pass them. Then seek to serve Him as faithfully as you can, while going through them. Seek to pass each of His tests and to graduate upwards to the next level.
But, be aware that the inevitable result of every such promotion is that you will then be required to take even harder tests. In short, do everything in the full knowledge that you are being continually tested and accept that that is a valid part of how God operates, because He wants to search you and find out what you are capable of. He also wants to find out what your real thoughts and motives are:
And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought…….1 Chronicles 29:9(a) (ESV)
And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.Romans 8:27 (RSV)
Therefore the fact that you are regularly tested and exposed to severe difficulties, even for long periods, is not a sign that God is against you or has abandoned you. Neither does it mean that He disapproves of you. Far from it. It is actually evidence that He regards you as being His. You are being treated as a disciple. That is the point, which far too many of us miss.
We tend to assume that difficulty and trials are obviously a departure from God’s plan for us. In fact, much of the time, they are His plan. So we need to stop viewing these struggles as an aberration that ought not to be allowed to happen to a Christian. Instead, start to see them all as normal, and even advantageous.
You would never succeed in an army career if you never got the chance to experience living under canvas, or even sleeping under hedges, in arctic, desert and jungle conditions. Likewise, it would be a very inadequate training regime if they never let you go on assault courses or cross country runs or mountain climbs etc.
The fact that you are subjected to such things is a sign that the senior officers take you, and your training, very seriously. They would actually be letting you down, and letting your country down, if they did not regularly expose you to such arduous conditions and test you up to and beyond your current limits.
One of the reasons why the Royal Marines and Parachute Regiment did so well in the Falklands War, and defeated an Argentinian force which was many times larger in terms of numbers, was because they had been so well trained. They were far more hardy than the Argentinian conscripts. The British soldiers, all of whom are volunteers, were used to sleeping out all night on Dartmoor in the cold and wet. Therefore, the bleak terrain of South Georgia and the Falklands did not cause them any concern. It seemed quite familiar, after all they had been through in training exercises.
I also remember my Dad telling me about some of his Army training. In particular, he spoke of how they were required to crawl across the ground while live bullets were being fired horizontally, just two or three feet above them. The Army did that because they wanted them to get used to the experience of being fired at. Then they would not panic, or be fazed, by the whizz of bullets passing nearby in real battles later on.