Places are of significance. William Wordsworth in his poem, ‘Daffodils’ writes of his experiences as he wanders through valleys and hills until he beholds a spectacular array of golden daffodils. His experience had such a lasting impact on him so much so that whenever he is in a pensive mood, the beauty of those daffodils flashes across his mind and fills his heart with pleasure. Our stations in life too have an impact on our lives, some of them positive which remains fresh in our mind, while others, brings along with it a gamut of sorrowful memories, we prefer to brush away.
Mathew records in the Gospels of Jesus being led into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. The images that flash across our mind are dry and parched land, sharp rocks, hot sand, burning sun, thorns and complete desolation. These were places; if you and I had a choice, would never opt to venture into and neither would we have qualms to shy away from them. But Jesus in obedience was led into the wilderness.
Each of us had gone through or maybe some of us are going through ‘wilderness’ situations in our life. These are times of loneliness, times of dryness and times of helplessness. But God does allow such times as these in our life. In the wilderness, Jesus fasted for forty days which means – forty days of no food, forty days of loneliness, forty days of looking at dry and desolate land and forty days of facing the scorching heat. Satan finds the opportune moment to tempt Jesus. Most often, temptation comes knocking at our door when we too are in ‘wilderness’ situations where everything is empty, dry and depressing.
The tempter came to Jesus and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread’ (1) and when that allurement failed, the tempter tries again, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down” (2). In both statements, the tempter begins with the words, “If you are the Son of God”. It was not only more about questioning Jesus’ power to change stones into bread or the angels carrying Him up in their hands, but it was a question towards Jesus’ Sonship. Wilderness situations in our life too lead us to the temptation of questioning and doubting our relationship with God. We ask questions like “Does God love me?”, “Has God forgiven me?” or “Am I really a child of God?”.
Thirdly, the tempter takes Jesus to the top of a high mountain and promised Him the kingdoms of the world if Jesus falls before him and worships him. Although the whole earth belonged to God as quoted 1 Corinthians 10:26, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” it seems that the tempter was promising Jesus the earth, if Jesus would bow down and worships him. Wilderness situations give us shortcuts to quick fix solutions. Financial strain may lead us to attempt make a fast buck through wrongful means, periods of loneliness may lead to embracing wrong relationships, poor performance may lead us to find ways to lie and cheat. What was unimaginable prior to our wilderness situation seemingly becomes acceptable.
The question is then how do we handle such situations? The way that Jesus did!
In every temptation, Jesus responded to the Tempter saying, “It is written” (3). Speaking God’s Word and His promises is the key to our wilderness situations.
When in times of loneliness, respond by speaking God’s Word from Mathew 28:20 “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world”, when in sickness, respond with Isaiah 53:5, “With His stripes we are healed” , when in financial difficulties, respond with Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all your needs” and when anxious about your future, respond with Psalm 23: 4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and staff, they comfort me”. Responding by speaking God’s Word and His Promises is the timeless truth in the wilderness situations of our life.
If given a choice, you and I would never choose to enter our wildernesses and neither would we love to remember it’s pain. But if Jesus had chosen otherwise, there would never have been a journey to the place called Golgotha and there would never have been a victory at the Cross!
(1) Mathew 4:3
(2) Mathew 4:6
(3) Mathew 4:4,7 & 10
This article was originally published in Intouch.