On June 13, 2012, Michael Sokolski died. Sokolski was the Polish-born American engineer who invented the #2 Pencil Test sheet. Actually, the test sheet he developed is known as the “Scranton” for which he also invented an optical scanner.
If you do a little Internet research, you will find lots of interesting advice related to the Scranton system. There are tips to help you cheat, debates about whether or not it is really necessary to use a #2 pencil, and constant reminders to guess if necessary since wrong answers don’t count against your final score.
There is one fact of the Scranton you can always count on: The scanner only reads one answer at a time. Therefore, if you provide two answers to one question it will be automatically counted as wrong.
In relation to our trials, I don’t want to suggest we are wrong when we try to answer too many questions at once. However, I have discovered if we try to resolve everything at once, we can jam our thinking process. This condition is similar to a coin counting machine that shuts down when we pile up too much money. The counter is capable of doing the whole job, but only if we are patient enough to pace our demand on the system.
This is why one of the first things we need to do when we are overwhelmed with a trial is break our struggle down into smaller pieces and prioritize our steps. The gift of time helps us think more clearly, and gives us a sense of control over our circumstances. And the assurance God will not condemn us for questioning and contending creates the spiritual flexibility we need to work through our disappointments.
When Jesus’ brother James told us to find joy in our trials because they develop perseverance, he added, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). Maturity doesn’t occur overnight, or as a result of a quick fix that instantly cures our fears and doubts. For this reason, when we face a trial we need to take a deep breath, ask God to help us order our steps, and take on our struggle one question at a time.
Why do you think we try to take on too many struggles at once? What happens to you when you are impatient in the midst of your trials?
Dear God, give me patience. In Jesus’ name, Amen.