Before a ship is put into commission, the crew takes it out for its shakedown cruise. They attempt to emulate the worst of all possible circumstances the vessel may face. In short, the crew pushes the ship to its absolute limit to prove it can endure the highest seas, the hottest battle and the grimmest conditions. Not only does this voyage prove the ship, it conditions the crew to function as a unit under stress. Any weaknesses exposed in vessel or crew are corrected.
Only then is the ship labelled seaworthy, and, more importantly, battle-worthy.
God puts us through shakedown cruises. He turns up the heat, allows the storm to rage and plunges us into darkness. He seemingly removes His presence, allows our prayers to sound hollow and does not act immediately against injustice.
He shakes us down now for what is to come later.
Lots of people in the Bible had shakedown cruises: Abraham, Moses, Joseph…
The poster-child for God’s shakedowns.
Job had an idea of God’s intent when he said, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (23:10).
I don’t think anything Job faced after his trial seemed unbearable to him. His faith in God was purified.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote, “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.”
Maybe you’re being shaken. If not, just wait a little while; it’s coming. Deep shaking through trials will come for all who truly know Christ, but take heart. God is building your ship with some things in mind: the worst storm you’ll face here and the glorious harbor you’ll enter there.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. –1 Pet. 1:6-7