In your Christian walk, I know at some point you may have found yourself in a desert, feeling hopeless or even alone. But I need you to know something: sometimes, you need to find your desert before you can see the beauty of the ocean, where it never runs dry. Too often, we think that we need to constantly be immersed in the deepness of our faith, that we’ll never run out; the truth is, dry spells happen to all of us at one point or another.
It’s important to remember that Jesus walked 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, where he eventually was tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread. Jesus was hungry, but he rebuked all of the devil’s temptations and alluring words. If we look at the components which Christ was tempted with in the wilderness, maybe it’ll better help us in ours.
The First Temptation: Bread
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” —Matthew 4:3
Bread could represent a plethora of things, but in this context, Jesus was very hungry since he hadn’t eaten in 40 days. How easy is it for us, in a bleak wilderness where darkness blinds us and daylight shows us our weaknesses, to fall into what satisfies our bodies? It’s very tempting, and many of us fall into it, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, sexual desires or even people. We make something else an idol in our wilderness because we simply can’t feel God near anymore. But what does Jesus say?
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) Is it possible then, that God already supplies our bodily needs in our wilderness, without us ever thinking we have to fall into temptation to get it? At the same time, He also fills up our spirits with the very breath and words from His holy mouth.
The Second Temptation: Life
Then, the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple:
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” —Matthew 4:5
Here, we have Jesus being tempted with his own life, where the devil is telling him to kill himself, because they both know God will save His son. If we parallel this in our own deserts, have you ever heard the whispers of a deceiving Satan tempting you to just give up on this life? Wouldn’t it just be easier to finally be free from the misery that you’re in and just hope that someone will come to your rescue? That’s not the life God has ever intended for any of His children.
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7) Don’t put God to the test in your own life; don’t feel like you need to threaten ending your life in order to be rid of the darkness you’re wading in. You don’t need to exalt anything before God, including your own self, in order to attain a fuller life.
The Third Temptation: Power
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’” —Matthew 4:8-9
The devil tries to tempt Jesus once more with wealth and power. Certainly, everything the devil would have given him would have been nice, but it would not have been attained by God, but by falling into temptation because of worldly needs and not depending upon the Father.
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:10-11) Jesus is the most holy, beautiful example of what resisting the devil and temptation looks like while actually being in a dry wilderness, where giving in should be easy.
If you’re in your wasteland, your desert, your wilderness right now, just stop walking, look up to God, and pray for Him to renew your Spirit. Jesus’ time in the desert proves that even in the most difficult times, God is still our Provider. He gives us strength. He sustains us.
When you find your faith waning, treat it as a time for renewal and prayer. Rebuke the enemies that linger and the devil that delights in tempting you, and tell him to leave. God will lead you; just surrender your trust and your hope into His hands and His will. You’ll reach the ocean once again, a place of deep and unending faith, and it will surpass your wildest dreams.
You may also be interested in 4 Ways To Find Faith Again When You’re Feeling Hopeless