God has promised a crown of life to those who endure trials. But when we find ourselves in the middle of a life altering trial, it’s too easy to walk in unbelief. But unfortunately, the maturing of our faith comes most times in the valleys not the mountain-tops. For it’s in the dark, scary valleys that we come to the end of ourselves and finally look to God.
In these verses Jeremiah is dejected and overwhelmed by the suffering he is witnessing in Jerusalem. In his head he was acknowledging God’s sovereignty…but he was still confused and disheartened by all the destruction around him. We’re the same way in the middle of trials. We know that God is there and in control…but when we’re overcome by it all, it’s hard to remain rational. Jeremiah was honestly laying all his feelings, concerns and complaints before his Heavenly Father, knowing that God would listen and not judge. And today we too have that same opportunity to speak candidly and openly to God without fear of retribution.
Whenever God is the agent of trials (temptations)…it’s for the purpose of testing, never for the purpose of causing us to fall. For God can’t be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. (James 1:13) And with each test, He will not only never tempt you beyond what you can bear, but He will also provide a way out. (I Corinthians 10:13) But we know our biggest adversary when it comes to temptation is the devil…the evil one. In this verse of the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking to be rescued from evil or the evil one. This statement is echoed in the Prayer of Jabez which says, “..Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me far from evil, that I may not cause pain.” ( I Chronicles 4:10) NKJV So anytime we ask God to keep us from the evil one…the devil must flee.
With each temptation, the devil offered Jesus a shortcut…a way to compromise and thus circumvent God’s plan. So anytime our own impatience tempts us to not wait but instead run ahead of God…we’re playing right into the same scheme. Now none of us like to wait…we all want immediate gratification, so when offered a shortcut, we usually take it. But within that shortcut can hide compromise, risk, and loss. I Corinthians 15:58 encourages us to, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” In God’s perfect plan there are no shortcuts, and even though we may feel impatient when waiting on the Lord…we are to stand firm, fully committed and trusting in Him.
At the end of all Believer’s lives we would hope to be able to echo Paul’s words here. Yes, I’ve struggled against temptation daily, but I’ve valiantly tried to remain honest and upright before the Lord. I’ve professed my faith to others…contending for the prize… the victor’s crown of eternal life. And in the end, like Paul, I wish to be able to say with confidence, that I have finished the race and completed the task- the ministry- that the Lord Jesus Christ has laid out before me. (Acts 20:24)
“If it’s not broke, why fix it.” Why should Satan have to change his tactics when it’s so easy to entice humans through their senses. Nowadays, we are constantly bombarded by a sensory overload that attempts to seduce us through what we see, hear, and feel emotionally. Temptation is so prevalent on TV, in movies, the Internet, and Social Media, that we can become apathetic and almost indifferent to that still small voice that whispers, “This is wrong.” For temptation will remain only a temptation…as long as you don’t act on it.
I have this Scripture on a beautiful plaque in my bathroom. And as I was getting ready this morning, I glanced up and there it was…like a beacon of truth, light, and hope. It was a wonderful reminder that I don’t have to do this thing called life all by myself. In I Timothy 1:12 it says that the Lord stands by my side and gives me strength…strength in all situations. This strength He gives me is much more than just bearing and suffering through a trial. The strength God gives, enables me to effectively handle with grace and patience all things that come into my life. For it’s only through Him, I can cope with all things for His glory.
The only way you can become really good at something is to practice…whether it’s a sport, a musical instrument, or a newly discovered talent, without practice, it’s just wishful thinking. Today, this Scripture wants us to take a new and different attitude when faced with the trials in our lives. It wants us to consider trials as practice. Every time we’re put to the test, we need to realized it’s a God-ordained crucible in which we are being purified. In other words, trials equal refining…trials equal developing patience…trials equal suffering in the faith…trials are a chance to practice what we preach.
Temptation in and of itself isn’t sin…but if acted upon, gives way to sin. And temptation acted upon, gives leave to a gateway or portal of evil into our very being. Evil now has a foothold…a threshold into our lives that we can’t even imagine. We’re all tempted on a daily basis, by endless means, all focused to cause us to fall into sin. But we don’t have to give in…and we don’t have to permit that entryway to be established in our lives. God is greater than any temptation that will befall you today. Look to Him for guidance.
Trials and temptations…we don’t like them. We would rather live blissfully in some kind of bubble insulated from the world and all bad stuff, but this scripture tells us otherwise. It says as Believers we need to look upon trials and temptations with happiness… because by them we are refined in the crucible of Christ …becoming more like Him everyday.