It’s no question that these last couple of months have been a challenge. Routines have been shaken up, weddings put on hold, human contact limited, jobs lost, and most tragically of all the lives of dear loved ones taken away.
Although I’ve only been slightly affected in comparison to many, I’ve had to deal with my own feelings towards being stuck a country away from some of the people I love most. And seeing friends and families of friends struggle to put food on the table because both parents have lost their jobs. And not knowing what to say to a someone whose loved one is barely holding onto life. All due to this unseen, unpredictable virus.
In a few cases it has even brought into question my own view of God, His character, and His goodness to allow something like this to shake up the lives of so many across the world.
It reminds me of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11 when God leads Him into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.
Yes. God leads Him into a wilderness. A probably dry, unkempt sort of place where no one (besides maybe John the Baptist) lived and where you’re left to your own thoughts. And who’s in the wilderness? Yes. Satan. Just waiting to catch Jesus in one of his stealthily placed traps.
Just like in the Garden of Eden, Satan tempts Jesus to question His Father in three ways:
1. Questioning the identity and power given to Jesus by God by tempting him to make food for Himself
2. Questioning God’s love and protection for Jesus by telling Him to throw Himself down
3. Questioning God’s timing of Jesus’ reign and His allegiance to the Father by tempting him with power and dominion
Sometimes, being in our own kind of wilderness of separation from friends and family, I can feel the same kind of spiritual warfare going on in my own heart and mind.
When I see all the hurt and distance caused by this virus, questions about God’s love, His power, and His timing can slowly start to trickle into my mind. It’s in uncertain times like these when, even before I realize it, I can begin to doubt not just God’s power but ultimately His good character.
Although Matthew 4:1-11 starts off with a David vs. Goliath sort of scene where Jesus, a half-starved lowly carpenter, and Satan, one of the most powerful created beings behind God Himself, go head to head, we see that the Jesus has a powerful, secret weapon that Satan knows nothing about – the truth of God’s word. With it, He is able to slice through every temptation to question His Father like a steak knife cutting through a piece of fried baloney. All with one simple tool – The Word of God.
Hebrews 4:11 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
And in John 17:17 Jesus prays that His disciples would be covered and sanctified in the truth of God’s Word.
Lately, I’ve been learning that like Jesus, if I’m going to win against the war of questions and doubts in my mind, I’m going to have to use something more powerful than my own willpower. I’ve got to use God’s truth. It is so important for me that when I notice these thoughts come to the surface, I don’t let them roll around and lead me to fear, anxiety or despair, but that I take them captive and put them up against the truth of God’s word (2 Corinthians 10:5). This means that I have to know the Word of God and daily submit myself to it.
The devil is crafty and He knows our weaknesses. That’s why His lies are so tempting and so believable! But in giving us His Word and His Spirit, God has provided us with everything we need to fight and win.
In fact, we’ve already won if we believe in Jesus because He won the victory over Satan and death before we were ever born!
Luckily God doesn’t make us suit up for a physical battle, but He does tell us to put on armor for a spiritual one. God calls us to take hold of His Word, submerge ourselves in it, and believe it. Only then will we be able to fight off temptations to doubt God’s character. Through His Word we will come to know our God so well that the moment these questions arise we will hold them up to God’s Word and trust that despite our changing circumstances, God’s character and His promises never change and they are always good.