Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

–Matthew 4:1-2 NIV


Baptized and blessed by the Father (Matthew 3:17), Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested. Why would God do that?

We know this kind of testing (which included tempting) is akin to testing one’s mettle—to see what someone is made of. But in Jesus’ case, whose benefit was the testing for? Regardless of our speculation, we know Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tested. How do you feel about that? I wonder if we imagine we have somehow left the Spirit behind when entering into such struggle? If you are anything like me, overwhelming trials and temptations leave the Spirit’s direction far from your mind. The focus is, instead, on the raging battle within.

How do you feel about the possibility of our struggles coming from the Spirit leading us into testing? Just thinking about it makes my head spin and my heart ache. It kind of reminds me of Job’s story. The whole reason for his world falling apart was because God was proud of him. If our struggles were a result of God’s delight and pride in us, how might that change our view of struggle and testing? But how can we even know? In Job’s story, we have the benefit of knowing the back story to his struggles. We can only guess at what transpired behind the scenes that led to Jesus’ testing and our own.

Entering the Lenten season draws us into such questions regarding Jesus’ testing and our own response to struggle. Daily we face all sorts of things that test our mettle, whether we are aware or not. This is not the only time of year we need to reflect on our response to struggle and pain—but the church calendar at least highlights the importance of a deeper look. We are invited to enter various spiritual disciplines (e.g., fasting, silence, & prayer) that the Spirit uses to show us how we respond to trials giving us opportunity to repent.

The good news from where I sit is that this exposure, this being led into struggle for a purpose, is really a gift—an invitation to deeper union with our Lord and the discovery that he is essential to our lives.

Take some time this week to sit with the Lord asking him to show you areas of your life to pray about. Consider taking up a new spiritual discipline during this season to discover his mercy and grace in new ways.


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Law & Grace