(WW) — There are multiple truths that we all will learn as we seek to become faithful followers of God. One of those truths is that at some point we all will face distractions that intend to get us to trust in someone other than God. Mark 1:9-13 and Matthew 4:1-11 tells us a brief story of how this was true for Jesus.
Jesus’s public ministry began with his baptism by his cousin John the Baptizer. After Jesus’s baptism, the same Spirit that fell upon him then sent him into the wilderness for 40 days to face a time of testing. The wilderness was where bad things happened. It was the place where anything that could go wrong would. It was not a place of safety, but instead was a place where there weren’t many resources to be had. The wilderness was a hard and scary place to be.
And Jesus wasn’t only going to be there for a few short days. He was going to spend 40 days there. And to make things even worse, while Jesus was in the wilderness, he was tempted with multiple distractions by God’s most consistent enemy.
During those 40 days, Jesus faced three specific kinds of distractions. Those distractions were tests that most of us likely have experienced before. The first dealt with physical hunger. The second dealt with physical vulnerability and a person’s need for safety. The third dealt with a person’s desire to control life and be recognized as a person of status or a person who has accomplished things in life.
The big question Jesus had to answer was whether he would listen to God and remember God’s promises or follow Satan and his unfaithfulness. This challenge to combat the voices that want us to ignore God is the primary challenge we all face today.
There are a few things we must remember when we face distractions. First, the distractions we face come from someone who doesn’t want us to become what God intends. Second, distractions never come at a convenient time. Third, when God seems distant, when we are in the wilderness of unfamiliarity and uncertainty, that is the time when the enemy kicks his antics into high gear, hoping to cause us to lose hope. Fourth, distractions may not end quickly.
While in the wilderness, Jesus had to find a way to remain strong for the entire time it seemed like God wasn’t present in his circumstances. I wish I had better news, but distractions don’t necessarily end the first time you think you’ve overcome them. But although they aren’t enjoyable, overcoming distractions is one of the ways God allows for our character to be shaped.
Through Jesus’s actions and words, we learn how to overcome distractions. The best way to navigate them is to allow God’s word to change us on the inside. Instead of arguing, Jesus repeated God’s word. Each time a new temptation was presented, Jesus said, “No, because it is written…” Jesus had God’s promises hidden in his heart and depended on those promises during the hard times he was facing.
Today, we face the same challenges that Jesus faced as he wandered in the wilderness getting prepared for the life God had in store for him. The challenges are who will we trust when life gets hard and unpredictable? Who will we focus on when life is confusing and we truly have no idea what we should do? Who will we hedge our bets on? Will we to seek to live like we want, or will we seek to live as God calls us?
I pray that we would be found faithful in following the example that our Savior gives us and in turn serve as a light for others who are seeking to understand what life within God’s family can look like. Amen.