Tag Archives: testing

When You’re Sick and Tired of Wilderness Living and Just Want Out

The Book says he was starving. Jesus, that is, after being taken to a wilderness place.
A difficult place.

I’ve been there too…empty…tired…depleted…hungry…

Eat, the Devil said. Chiding Jesus on; playing to his vulnerable place. But Jesus refused; and chose hunger over surrender.

All the while I’ll devour anything to fill the void; numb the pain. Shopping…Hot Tamales…Tiny House Hunters…computer puzzles…

His body weakened.

            So has mine.

Jump, the enemy taunted. But instead of jumping, Jesus yielded a Sword. The Word of God. And dodged another offer.

I so want to jump…throw in the towel…move to Idaho…or maybe Bora Bora, where there aren’t quite as many bugs…

Let me take care of you, the adversary suggests to Jesus. Trust me. Not God.

He suggests that to me too. All the time.

Except I often fail. Jesus didn’t.

“The Test was over. The Devil left.
And in his place, angels!
Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.”
 Matt. 4:11, MSG

Tired. Depleted. Hungry. Vulnerable. That’s what Jesus no doubt felt while he was being tempted in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights (Matt. 4:1-11).

That’s what we often feel like when we’re stuck in the wild times, trying to figure out what the heck is going on,

because an adversary is trying, oh, so hard to keep us down…because life can be just plain crappy…because we do really dumb things to ourselves and others…

Any way you slice it, wandering in the same uncomfortable situation for what seems like forever, battling the same demons, hungry for something more, uncomfortable and alone, just plain sucks. Jesus knows. He was there too.

Not only that, he knows that the temptations to alleviate the pain come in all shapes and sizes…

  • Eat. Feed your flesh. Eat the chocolate. Drink the drink. Take the pill. You’ll feel much better…
  • Jump. Give up. On life. On him. On her. On yourself. Bailing out is so much easier than balancing the tightrope of discipline, bravery, selflessness and hard work…
  • Rely on others. Or yourself. But, by no means, God. I mean, where the heck is he when you need him, anyway? You certainly can’t trust him…

Yes. The enticements to get ourselves out of the wastelands, at any cost, just to feel better, are endless.

But, look again…

“The Test was over. The Devil left.
And in his place, angels!
Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.”
Matt. 4:11

Relief was not given during the test. Like we think it should. And expect it to.

It was given after.

Only after the devil left, when Jesus had finished the trial, was he was attended to. Fed and comforted; cared for and strengthened.

And so, I wonder…

What if we chose to stay in the wilderness, where it’s confusing, uncomfortable, and seemingly pointless, and tolerate all those yucky feelings, instead of always trying to escape pain?

What if we chose hunger over surrender?

Truth instead of defeat?

God instead of self-reliance?

What if we dared to trust that our wilderness journeys just might be good for us? To shape us? Change us? Make us stronger?

Better?

After all, the muscle only grows after it has been broken down. Which can be very painful.

The seed turns into a flower after it has died and has been buried; concealed and forgotten. With new growth often taking a very long time.

Perhaps we’d actually find relief, peace, and feel better, if we’d lean into the wilderness situations we’re in, accept them, deal with them, (maybe even embrace them?), instead of always trying to circumvent or dilute them.

And trust that God, always being ridiculously good, full of love, mercy and grace, really does care for us.

And when the time is right, will show us the way out.

Today, weary from being in a wilderness place, I choose less-than-wonderful feelings. I choose hunger. Truth. Hope. Anticipation.

And I feel a bit better already. :)


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Passing the Test

I feel like I’ve been through the spiritual ringer this last week. Like I’m being tested. Refined again. Yippee.

I’ve been tempted to think things my mind shouldn’t be thinking, have said a few “choice” words that I wish I hadn’t, gave myself a sweet little paper cut on my finger that felt like a razor blade took to it, have woken up with migraines during the night for no apparent reason, have been struggling with having not-so-nice conversations with people in my head, have been tempted to question a few things in life, and on and on. Little things. Big things. Many things.

I have found that I generally fare well with bigger, obvious tests. I text my posse and ask for prayer, pull out the “big-guns” of Scripture, process with my hubby, prepare for battle, etc. But, oh, those little things . . . I’ve recognized, through all of this, that it’s when things seem to pile up, as little as they may be, that my faith is tested most. That last straw has been placed. Back broken.

As I literally got down on my knees today, (more out of habit as opposed to really wanting to), I began a conversation with God. It went with something like this:

           God, I’m tired. I feel like I’m always failing.        

You are.

Excuse me?

You are. You will. The question is, will you get back up again?

Silence.

After swallowing my aha moment, I immediately remembered Peter. You probably know the story. In the book of Luke, Jesus told Peter that Satan was asking permission to make mincemeat out of him. Shred him to pieces. Render him useless.

And Jesus’ reply?

“But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon [Peter], that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”  (Luke 22:32, NLT, emphasis mine)

Peter’s faith did fail. He would go on to deny Jesus three times – even using a few of his own “choice” words as he did. I’d personally call that an epic fail.

But, he got back up. He recognized, repented, and reestablished.

And that’s what Jesus’ prayer for him was all about. So when you have repented and turned to me again . . . He knew Peter was going to fail. He even predicted it. So what was His prayer for Peter?

That when he did fail, he would not succumb to that failure. That it would not define him; keep him down; keep him from turning back to Jesus; keep him from trying again. And again. And again. That Peter would see that “his faith not failing” wasn’t about having a failure moment; it was about what he was going to do after his failure. With his failure. That he would take his own failure and use it to strengthen others who also would fail.

Maybe that’s why the Bible has so much to say about persevering, not giving up, and running the race of life with endurance (see James 1:12-18, Heb. 12:1-3, Gal. 6:9). Maybe getting an “A” during tests of faith has nothing to do with our everyday failures, but rather with whether we believe Jesus when He said on the cross immediately prior to His death, “It is finished.” It is now done. Over. Sin covered. New beginnings possible. Every day. And we recognize, repent, re-group and reestablish. 

And then tomorrow? We do it again if necessary. With a smile on our faces that recognizes the beautiful gift God has given us – an opportunity to receive a passing grade on all of our faith tests, every single time, as we choose to continue on with Him and let Him use our “failures” to help and strengthen others.

Happy test taking!