A Beautiful Test? Day 2/40Naima Lett | Blog | Thursday February 23 2012
DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
A Beautiful Test? | DAY 2 of 40 (LENT)
Remember high school? The first test of the semester, regardless of the subject, was usually always the hardest. Didn’t quite know what to expect. How long? Multiple choice? Essay? Extra credit? The exam could be described as many things, but “beautiful” was usually not one of the adjectives that came to mind.
Yet, I’d like to submit that the tests we experience over the next 40 days together might be considered beautiful. Huh???!
Let me back up.
OK, how was your first day of fasting and prayer yesterday? Was it easy to decide what you’d sacrifice?
Maybe, you experienced some withdrawal symptoms i.e. headache, irritation, etc. That’s normal as the body and mind adjust to their new reality, whether dealing with food or whatever we’ve chosen to sacrifice. Let’s extend grace to ourselves and/or a grace period of adjustment. Can’t promise that the cravings will go away, but I can promise that those cravings can remind us to pray.
As mentioned on yesterday (ABOUT LENT), the LENT season symbolizes the 40 days in the wilderness, testing and temptation that Jesus endured before launching into his public ministry. Let’s look at that passage today and His first test. This is where I think the beautiful part comes in.
DAY 2: Scripture meditation
Tested in the Wilderness
READ: MATTHEW 4:1-11
Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, after he was baptized and before he began his public ministry. After his 40 day fast, he was tested.
The first test hit Jesus in His immediate need – hunger. No, that’s not beautiful. Jesus hadn’t eaten for 40 days. Surely, he could turn the stone into bread and chow down. The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Since Jesus is the Son of God, what’s the big deal? Do the miracle. Prove it! Right?!
This test ultimately was to see if Jesus would satisfy his immediate needs independent of God. Isn’t that a test that we too face often? Will we satisfy our daily needs outside of depending on God?
The scripture does not deny that Jesus had a need. Matthew 4:2 says that Jesus was hungry. Hunger is a REAL need! We all have to eat to live. The question is will Jesus “prove” His identity as the Son of God by satisfying that need? Jesus knew His identity. He didn’t have to prove Himself to satan or anyone else. Besides, it was not yet time to reveal Himself as the Messiah, the Christ.
Instead, [here's the beauty], Jesus pointed to His and our dependance on God.
The definition of beauty is “the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations, a meaningful design or pattern, or something else, as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest.”
There is something downright beautiful (deeply satisfying in seeing such high spiritual qualities manifested) in how Jesus handled this test. No doubt, He was ‘gangsta’ with satan; and he didn’t give in to his flesh. To me, that’s amazing. I am just not always that successful, especially when depending on my own strength. Geez!
Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. This quote was from God’s word through Moses to God’s people when they were in their own wilderness, Deuteronomy 8:3: “He [God] humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.”
Deuteronomy 8:1-10 is worth looking at if you have time. The scripture says that God’s people were tested “to know what was in your heart”, and that was not just 40 days, but 40 years in the wilderness. They received a 40 year wilderness stint after rejecting a good report from 2 of the spies’ 40 day journey into the land of milk and honey. Numbers 14:33-35 NIV. But that’s a whole other story!
What’s the point?
Our tests don’t have to be painful and drenched in anxiety. We don’t have to walk on pins and needles. We can embrace the tests because they are meant for our well being – to show us what’s in our hearts.
It is very likely over the 40 days that we are committing to the Lord, as we fast and pray, areas will be revealed where we don’t trust God and want to meet our own needs outside of His will.
For example, we all need clothes. But if we’re an artist on a shoestring budget struggling to pay rent, though tempting, it might not be the best thing to run up thousands in debt trying to dress in the latest greatest. Wouldn’t we want to know this is in our hearts and curve the appetite before financial disaster?
Or, we all need food. But if we find that there’s no way we can live without that quart of ice cream every night… Want to avoid diabetes, right?
We all need income. But if we lie on our taxes to get a refund that’s not deserved… Want to stay out of jail, right?
We all need relationships. But if we’re living a double life and not being honest with ourselves and the ones we claim to love… Want to live, right?
Let’s pray for the Lord to reveal anything that’s not like Him and give us His heart.
Let’s pray for the Lord to show us what we live by and depend on. Do we live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God?
What or WHO is our trust in?
Just some questions to ask ourselves.
So, maybe the test isn’t what’s beautiful.
But the way we respond to the test can reveal the beauty that is within us.
What do you think?
SONG OF REFLECTION:
VIDEO: LIVING WORD, by Fred Hammond
1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s spend some time confessing our wrongs and asking for forgiveness
2) Complete honesty & transparency – Let’s talk to God about what’s on our hearts and minds, concerns, praises. Let the guard down.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet ourselves and listen to God’s Spirit concerning what we have shared with Him, what we read in the scripture, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers, church, government, etc.
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