Lent Meditation Eight
“Somewhere between the darkness and the light” (Mark Hall)
Lent is the season in which we deal with the theology of temptation. It is a part of our lives!
When Jesus teaches the Disciples to pray he says” Pray, lead us not into temptation. (Luke 11:4)
In the Garden of Eden, we are told how everything was made and it was good, but it was in the Garden, and in effect in the middle of the garden, that Adam and Eve were tempted. (Genesis 3:1)
In the book of Job some startling facts are revealed about life on earth.
“One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan (the accuser) also came with them. “Where have you come from?” said the LORD to Satan. “From roaming through the earth,” he replied, “and walking back and forth in it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one on earth like him, a man who is blameless and upright, who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:6-8) ( Job 2:1-3a)
This is an uncomfortable truth and a reality in our lives. But facing the reality of temptation is an important part of our faith journey. The entire Bible is a story of humanity facing temptation in this battle against powers and principalities. (see Ephesians 6:12)
The Story of Job is a story of resisting the temptation to doubt that God is with us, the temptation to rely on our circumstances and possessions, our health and our wealth to be symbols of God’s blessing and any hardship to be signs of God’s wrath and judgement. Job shows that this is not true.
St Paul spends extensive time showing that persecution and hardship are not fashioned against us to destroy us but that they are a part of life and that we have the power to overcome. No weapon fashioned against us shall prevail. (Isaiah54:17)
The tempter is called the father of all lies (John 8:44). We must realise that the Devil is a liar and that all temptation is based on the lie that we have reason to doubt God.
But even doubt itself can be a catalyst to strengthen us, doubt can make us seek God more intently, and persevere and deepen our relationship with God. If you read the story of Job, it is an account of a believer upholding Hope against Hope. It is the story of a believer that would not allow anything to make him turn away from trusting God.
St Paul wrote
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
St Thomas, the Disciple, said that he would not be satisfied with the testimony of others about the risen Christ, he wanted to see it for himself, and he wanted to put his hand in the side of Jesus, to believe. Many have criticised the Saint for this, and he has even been given the name doubting Thomas. For me personally I love this account of Thomas saying – I am not going to just take others word for it, I seek the experience of the risen Christ, I want to know Him at a personal level.
We need to experience God for ourselves not just believe in the testimony of others. Like the Samaritan town whom Jesus converts after his conversation with the woman at the well. “They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.” (John 4:42)
What has God said to you through others? Have you spent time in prayer and meditation seeking to overcome doubt? Seeking to understand God more fully, seeking to experience his grace personally? Reflect on the events of or life where you are still uncertain about what the circumstances of your life are causing you to believe.
In the garden of Eden Adam and Eve were given every tree bearing fruit tree for food. But the devil says – “Did God really say you may not eat of any tree in the Garden.” (Genesis 3:1b)
The temptation was that God is holding out on them, denying them. Lent is a season where we evaluate our appreciation for the fact that all things have been given to us. We have been given dominion over the world. How we use that dominion how we care for the world is of eternal consequence. The devil would have us believe that it is not our responsibility, the world is not really ours, he wants us to believe that it is His and that if we serve the world we are serving him.
May your prayers and meditations put you back on track with God this Lent. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. (1 Cor 10:26). For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (John 3:16).
May this Lent be a time when we acknowledge that we have ben placed in the middle of God’s Garden and that everything is ours in Christ. Ours to enjoy and care for. Ours to delight in and share. Ours to use to the Glory of God.
Let us pray.
Lord God your created us in your image and placed us in the middle of the Garden that you had planted. Our sin drives us to the periphery. Lead us to repentance that we may take our rightful place as your stewards of everything that you have made.
Everything we have comes from you and of your own do we give you.
May we believe in you the light and resist the temptation of darkness that would have us believe that we are less, that we are significant that we are weak. May our doubts lead us to a deeper relationship with you, that we may serve you, for you are the light of the world.