Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tempted and Tried

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,“‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up,lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:1-13

I've spent the day traveling by myself, through two airports. I've learned something about myself. I am really drawn to those places which sell magazines and candy. I find myself craving something sweet. Traveling is stressful, I rationalize, particularly when there is no one to share the wait time with, and a little sweet snack is a great reward for the hardship. I am amazed at how sweet, snacky things tempt me when I am away from home. They are easier to manage at home, and I can be stronger around others, but on my own, I am weak and cave easily. Being human is really challenging.

Jesus is tempted after a long time of prayer and fasting. He has done without and is tempted by the devil to take his authority, demand what he deserves and to demonstrate the limits of his power. It takes everything that Jesus has to fend off the devil. The bad guy keeps coming back, flashing the possibilities to a very hungry, very weary man, who is all alone. And yet Jesus recognizes he is never alone, as we are never alone. The God of love is ever close, ever providing and we do not have to flex our muscles or reward our selfish need in order to be surrounded by the Creator's presence.

Today, I ask God to help me be a compassionate human, one who understands the temptations of others and does not judge them, but see myself in them. We are all taken to the edge some times by circumstances or pain too great to bear, and in all that God is with us, nurturing and tenderly caring for us all.

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