Do you ever have those times where it seems like it’s just one thing after another? A sick child, the car breaks down, the roof begins to leak, a loved one is in the hospital, a deadline at work right before the holidays, or some other minor or major crisis at the least convenient time? I have those days (and sometimes those weeks) too.
Here lately for me, it’s been a hectic time, with Christmas just around the corner, and I have a parent that has been struggling with a mental illness off and on for the past several years, but recently it’s become more debilitating, and we’ve looked into more doctors and more treatment solutions. I sometimes just feel like my energy is zapped, and that it’s one thing after another. Yet, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness. He got us through a crisis late last year and early this year with our daughter’s depression, and I know He will help us navigate this too.
At those times, when we feel weak, or burned out or stressed out, is when we are most vulnerable to temptation. The temptation to return to old habits or unhealthy coping mechanisms (in my case, for a long time it was drinking) or to try to handle things all on our own and neglect to pray and ask God for help, or to get so busy we neglect our family life– the enemy attacks us when he knows we’re at our weakest.
Today, I was reading about where Jesus was tempted in the wilderness right after He is baptized by John the Baptist and just after He heard the Father tell Him, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus knew He had an important mission ahead – one that would bring about the redemption of you and me, and pay for the sins of mankind. The devil wanted nothing more than to get Him to mess up and dishonor God so that He could discredit Jesus’ entire ministry and mission.
Beginning in Matthew 4, the Word says, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’
But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:1-4 NKJV)
Boom. Strike one. The devil had already lost the first round. Jesus wasn’t going to dishonor the Father by giving in to a temptation based on His physical need.
Do you ever feel like you’re in the wilderness of life? Just kind of winging it, maybe living paycheck to paycheck, or having to improvise because things haven’t gone as planned? It’s when we often find ourselves tempted. Reading these verses brings a great deal of comfort in knowing that we have a Savior who was in the wilderness too, and was tempted just like we are. And the greatest thing of all is that He overcame the temptation, and because He overcame, He gives us the strength to overcome also.
Imagine how hungry Jesus must have been! I can’t imagine fasting for four days, let alone forty! The dirt on the ground must have looked good enough to eat at that point. Not only that, but He had the power to turn those stones into bread and make Himself a sandwich right then and there! Yet, He refused to dishonor His Father, and He loved us too much to give us on His mission, which was to rescue us from the enemy’s clutches.
After the bread incident it says, “Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over You.’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ‘
Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’
Then the devil left Him and behold, angels came and ministered to Him (vv 5-11).”
The devil tempted Jesus to give into pride and the desire for material things, but Jesus still refused. When we feel that urge to just say, “You know what, I’m done trying to do the right thing, I might as well _____ (you can fill in the blank here, it’s usually related to one of our weaknesses),” we can know that that’s not of God, but the enemy tempting us to give up on what God would have for us to do, or maybe to even give up on following God altogether.
I love what Hebrews 4:14-16 says: “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Jesus wasn’t just tempted in the three points described in Matthew. It says He was tempted in all points as we are. This is a great comfort to know that whatever I am tempted with, our Savior was tempted also, and because He overcame, I can overcome also. It says that we can come boldly to the throne of grace. We don’t have to be shy, or ashamed, or afraid. No, we can come boldly and find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. Isn’t that wonderful?
The first verse in Hebrews 4 above tells us to hold fast our confession (our faith in Christ) because He knows what it’s like, He’s been there, and He will not fail us. He will always be there to provide the grace that we need to overcome. Reading this really encouraged me today, and I hope it encourages you to know that He loves you too, and will help us in our every need. We don’t have to listen to the lies of the enemy that tell us to give up or to go back to our old ways. Instead we can hold fast to our Savior.
“Father, I thank You for your grace that is available in every situation, and most especially in our time of need. The truth is, though, that we need You every day, every minute, and I’m glad You’re always there. Help us to hold fast to Your truth and not give into the temptations of the enemy to turn away from You. Let us instead draw closer to You in these times, and ask what You would have us to do or to learn from the situation. I thank You that You are faithful, always and forever, and that You loved us enough to overcome and win the fight for us, enough to even die and lay down Your life so that we could be set free. Help me to live my life to honor You, Lord, and use the trials in my life for Your glory. I give You all the praise and the thanks and the glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”