Every year, my husband and I begin the year with 21 days of fasting and prayer. During these times, I’ve seen God answer prayers, give vision and direction, and speak to my heart about a specific promise or assignment. I often come off of the fast with wide eyes and high expectations for the blessings of God to flow through my life in an unprecedented way! But then I’m reminded of Jesus’ experience when he ended his fast and trust me, it’s much different than what I expect at the end of mine!
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Matthew 4:1-2 ESV)
In fasting and prayer, where was he taken? He wasn’t led into the city to start “Son of God Christian Church”. He wasn’t led to write a book “How to Save Sinners and Stay Fit”. He was led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (I won’t even get started on how it was the Spirit that led him there!).
While I truly believe that God has great and precious promises in store for those who call him Lord (2 Peter 1:4), we will all experience times of trials and testing. And guess what? They aren’t all from the devil!
The times when we feel tested are times when God is able to root out things in us that don’t need to be there. I homeschool my kids right now and every so often, they have tests. The tests aren’t to beat them down or make them upset. They are to show me the areas that they’ve mastered and the areas where more work is needed.
When we are tested, God can use this time to help us see the areas we have grown in or need maturity. These times cause us to rely on what we know to be true about our position in Christ, which we discover through the Word of God. And the Word of God was exactly what Jesus used during his time of testing.
Satan tried three times to tempt Jesus into worshipping him, but each time, Jesus declared what was already written in God’s Word. We cannot combat the attacks of the enemy without the Word of God. This is why he fights us so hard when we try to read the Bible! Have you ever noticed the amount of interruptions you experience when you’re trying to read the Bible (better yet, how sleepy you get?!)
It’s because our enemy knows the power that the Word of God carries. Don’t forget he lived in heaven! He’s seen the strength and power of God’s word first hand, and if he can’t have it, he will do all he can to stop you from having it! He wants to separate you from God’s word. That’s what he did to Eve in the garden.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”” (Genesis 3:1 ESV)
Satan successfully employed two tricks he likes to often use to distract us: He wants us alone and he wants us to doubt God’s word. He waited until Eve was alone to attack. During times when you feel alone, that’s when Satan makes his move. He’s after the one sheep that got separated from the other 99. He’s after the young woman who has stopped coming to church regularly and has distanced herself from her friends.
Did you know that God has never been alone? I heard this from an amazing teacher, Jackie-Hill Perry. That our God is a triune God: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. She said we are never more unlike God than when we isolate ourselves. Wow! Let that sink in.
Satan waited for Eve to be alone and then tried to cause her to doubt God’s instruction. And most of us know what happened next: the rest of humanity has been plagued with sin, sickness, shame, lust, lying, deceit, death and a whole slew of other problems (including pain during childbirth!) that can only be overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ. Thanks a lot, Eve!
Thankfully, like Jesus, we are never truly alone. Like our Savior, we have the Word of God and the Spirit of God to strengthen us during times of testing. Not to mention a cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and Jesus Christ himself, at the right hand of God, making intercession for us! That sounds like victory to me.
Unlike many tests in school, we can take our tests with an open book! There are no sweeter words to a student than “This will be an open book test”. A wave of relief and confidence would fill the classroom instantly! Like Jesus, during times of testing, I encourage you to bury yourself in God’s Word. Memorize scriptures, familiarize yourself with stories from the Bible, listen to faith filled messages by Spirit-led teachers. Use the Word of God to sustain you and I promise, you will pass with flying colors.