Sharing by Deaconess Michelle Tam
Did you know that it was not Satan that led Jesus into the wilderness? Luke chapter 4 says “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” It was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus there. Why? Because there was something that was going to come out of that time. There was a pressing, a crushing, a squeezing, a refining that was going to launch Jesus into His ministry. How many of you know Jesus did no miracles, no notable works before that testing. What’s the wisdom for us today…maybe you find yourself in a trial right now and you think it’s the devil. I want to encourage you to lean in to these trials. If you read in the New Testament in the letters of Paul, these trials have been granted to us to suffer on behalf of Christ (Philippians 1), they exist to make us and form us. Stop praying for God to remove you or deliver you from the fire. It is in the fire, in the leap of faith, in the temptations that we see God as our shield, our provider and our protector. Ask him instead to help you see Him rightly in the midst of your trials and strengthen you to endure it because there is a prize for us on the other end.
Trials and adversity are a guarantee on this side of heaven. How we respond to them makes all the difference. Paul regarded these “tests” as opportunities to grow spiritually. Instead of despairing when he encountered trials, he said he would glory in his infirmities so that the power of Christ would rest upon Him (2 Corinthians 12:9). Like Paul, let us choose to trust God and accept the grace He gives which results in Christ’s character being formed in us. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
When life gets hard as a Christian, it’s easy to think it’s a punishment or a consequence even though it can be at times but may not necessarily have direct correlation. Looking at pain and suffering with the correct perspective is vital for our spiritual growth because it reveals weaknesses in our lives as well as things where we’ve falsely put our hope in. It causes us to be totally reliant and dependent on God. Scripture tells believers to be prepare and to expect hardship because it is coming. More importantly, it encourages us to turn to God during those times because His strength is made perfect in our weakness and in His lovingkindness, He gives us encouragement to strength us. When we trust God to bring about His purposes through the suffering, we can be confident of two things: First, we will experience the power of God’s Spirit which will be manifested in our lives through the fruit of the Spirit. Second, God will not allow anything to happen to us without His permission and He will not let any “bad thing” happen that will not ultimately bring us more good than destruction. Maybe this season you’ve been wishing away is the very season God wants to use to sharpen your mind, strengthen your faith and prepare you for greater responsibilities ahead. For the new year, let us look to God for faith that moves mountains and pray for enduring strength that will refine us and transform us for His glory. We will miss out on seeing God’s faithfulness if we try to escape every test!