I’m not sure why I’ve never noticed this before, but some how, in my rush to figure out what the three temptations of Jesus might mean, I’ve failed to notice that, in fact, Jesus has been tempted constantly for 40 straight days. Don’t believe me? It says so, right there in Luke’s Gospel:
After his baptism, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.
Luke gives us a sampling of what Jesus had to endure: temptations of bread, power, and safety; but what really strikes me is how 2/3rds of the sample temptations start with a question of trust.
“If you are the Son of God…”
As we begin the 40 day season of Lent, temptation will be nipping at your heels. At least I know it will be for me. You see, every time I find myself getting closer to God’s dream for me, I realize that the devil is hard at work tempting me to give it all up and follow my own dreams.
“If you really are a beloved child of God…”
The Deceiver is always ready to make you doubt God’s love. He’s always there to make you question God’s dream. He never fails to cause hesitation on the pathway to the Kingdom of God. If you’ve decided to take on a prayer practice, be ready for your life to get busier than ever. If you’ve given up chocolate, wine, or potato chips, be prepared to have them offered to you again and again. If you’re seeking a closer relationship with God this Lent, be prepared to wonder if God is a target moving ever farther away. That’s the job of the Deceiver.
Withstanding 40 days of temptation isn’t going to be easy. There are bound to be days when you fall short of whatever ideal you’re striving for this Lent. When that happens, be kind to yourself, take a deep breath, ask for forgiveness, and for goodness sake, try again. Lent is a marathon, 40 days of temptation were almost too much for Jesus, but with God’s help, even when we fail, we won’t lose our status as a beloved child of God, no matter what the Devil says to the contrary.