Everyone knows the story of how Jesus was sent into the desert to be tempted by the devil. I’ve heard many sermons on it myself with pastors often focusing on whether it was just of God to allow Him to be tempted, or if Jesus, a member of the Trinity could actually be tempted, if He is in fact God. Few times, if ever, has there been a connection to what preceded His right of passage. For those who may not know, He was baptized by John after which time, the heavens opened up and the Spirit of God descended upon Him and a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
It was directly after that accolade, the pinnacle of success, when Jesus was led into a trial that would challenge His commitment, His integrity, His perseverance, and His willingness to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term success. Similarly, after the Triumphant Entry when He rode into town with palm fronds laid down before Him, and rose petals tossed upon Him like a hero who has returned from battle in glory, He faced the Garden of Gethsemane. The night of anguish that He endured alone without even the support of His best friends or family to see Him through as they’d all fallen asleep on Him.
How many times have I reached a point in my life when I have done the right thing, taken the high road, had praise heaped upon me only to immediately be confronted with an almost unbearable challenge that has left me calling out, “God, why have you forsaken me?” Does that happen to you? If so, try and remind yourself that Jesus, Himself, set an example for us and in so doing showed Himself to be fully Man. He whined, cried, hungered, suffered, and pleaded for mercy. There is no shame there. But He didn’t quit.
I jokingly told someone who proudly wore ashes upon her forehead on Ash Wednesday as a symbol, not of humility nor surrender, but of pride and superiority, that I don’t give anything up for Lent because God doesn’t like quitters. But I was only partially joking. What He calls us to do is “Stand fast.” We are not called to sacrifice, but to endure to the end, whether that is the end of a trial, or the end of our life. In order to do that though, we must keep our eye on the prize. For me, that prize is creating a legacy for my children to point to and say to their children, and their children to their children, “Your grandma was exceptional in every way that is stalwart and true.”
We are all loved by God. We are cherished like all of creation, only more so, as we are made in His image. And for you parents out there, you know what that is like…even when you are irritated with your child, you still love him without reservation and would do anything for him. So it is with God. He loves you without reservation. So the next time you are faced with a trial, give a moment of thanks that you are counted worthy of the challenge, man up, and say, “I got this,” knowing that the One who led you in, will also lead you out. He wants to see you succeed.