“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
John 4:1, NIV
Life is not always easy. Everything doesn’t always fall nicely into place and there are seasons in life when it seems as though God has withdrawn His presence. Times when we have been walking on with God in obedience and fellowship with Him when, suddenly, it seems as though the Lord has led us into a desert place – a place where God has desert-ed us!
It must have seemed like that for Jesus when, just after the most extraordinary and supernatural manifestation of the Father’s presence and power, following His baptism by John the Baptist, He suddenly found Himself being led into a spiritually hostile place by the same Spirit who took Him down into those baptismal waters.
It’s easy to love and obey God when you are in the middle of a wonderful spiritual season of blessing, when you are so aware of the Lord’s presence. But how do we cope when the circumstances around us are very different and even hostile? Do we still choose to walk in obedience to God because we love Him or do we turn to other things to comfort ourselves in tough times – be it some form of self-indulgence, wrong relationships or whatever?
In His wilderness experience the devil offered Jesus bread from stones, followers through spiritual performances and, ultimately, the world without sacrifice. Jesus persevered for forty days, faced with constant temptation – but at no time did He indulge himself. He consistently chose to obey His Father God, even though there was no obvious evidence of His presence. This was Jesus’ test – and He came through it without succumbing to the devil’s temptations. The wonderful evidence of Scripture is that Jesus came back from this wilderness experience in the power of the Spirit and began His work.
God sometimes tests our hearts also – how will we respond when it seems as though we are in a desert? Will we still love and obey the Lord – and come out the other side even stronger than before!
Prayer: Help me, Jesus, to learn from the way You faced a season of testing. Give me, I pray, the courage to keep on loving and obeying you, even when I’m going through tough times. Freshly empower me with Your Spirit so that I will always want to walk in Your footsteps and not step out of the Way You have set before me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.