“The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days.” Mark 1:12-13a
”Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.” Matthew 4:1-2
Have you experienced a time of testing—maybe currently going through a test—where you thought it would never end? Life would always be this way—or worse? That you wouldn’t survive? Did you cry out to God, “I’m Done!”
Years ago I did just that. My world was up-ended. Everything I thought would be good in my life was in jeopardy. This was the first really big test where none of my own efforts to change things had any affect. I was depressed…done…vulnerable. I crawled into bed that night and wept into my pillow.
“If you don’t change my circumstances, God, I don’t want to wake up tomorrow!”
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
When I awoke in the morning, nothing had changed. Nothing. Except…the Lord had given me the longest, deepest, uninterrupted sleep that night. In doing so, I had the strength to hold onto him for one more day…and another day…and another day.
Immediately after Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tested for forty days and nights. I imagine him being physically strong at the beginning of that period of testing, easier to fight the spiritual battle. By the fortieth day of fasting, he became hungry. His physical body was dying. He was at his weakest. The enemy hit him with the big test. With his physical, mortal strength exhausted, would he change the terms of the test? Would he circumvent God’s plan for salvation of the world he had created?
At his weakest, Jesus stood firm against the lies of the devil. He answered each suggestion with the truth of God’s Word. The enemy tested him at every level—lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Having passed the test, the enemy left him alone for awhile and Jesus began his ministry to teach mankind to know God and then to offer himself—the perfect sacrifice.
We can stand firm when we are vulnerable because Jesus stood firm and accomplished God’s purpose for his life, death and resurrection. His is the victory. And his strength is in us. The Holy Spirit—the Paraclete—the helper—bears the weight of our difficulties and bids us come.
“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:29-30
He won’t abandon us. In the time of his testing, scripture says “angels took care of him” (Mark 1:13.) The Holy Spirit cares for us through our times of testing. As God accomplishes the purpose for each test in our lives, faith grows and rest will come.
“When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
by Marilyn Allison