Temptation. What goes through your mind when you hear that word? Whether the temptation is coming from unhealthy food, the desire to wallow in self-pity, or adulterous feelings, most find temptation stressful, unpleasant, and something to avoid. Unfortunately, none of us can avoid temptation – it’s everywhere. What if this inevitable part of life could serve us as oppose to hinder us? What if temptation wasn’t a bad word, but a tool from God to bless you?
The Apostle Paul says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) For your most agonizing temptation, what’s the way of escape God has provided for you? Most would probably say temptation is either pass or fail, endure or don’t endure, but Scripture seems to be pointing to a hidden, third option – an option which produces freedom and peace, results not normally produced by temptation.
In Song of Solomon 2:10-11, we read of a Christlike figure saying to his bride, “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone.” In Hosea 2:14, after Israel had been disobedient and idolatrous, God promises to Israel, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.” Once again, in Mark 6:31, a worn-down group of disciples come to Jesus amidst a pressing crowd and Jesus himself says, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.”
Are you sensing a pattern here? God longs to call us away, right in the middle of stress, disappointment, and even chaos. What if God has much to say to us in those moments of temptation? Follow me here. The hunger you have when you’re being tempted with high-calorie, sugary food on a stressful day is a hunger that’s pointing towards Jesus, the bread of life which truly nourishes and satisfies – slip away and get your fill of him. (John 6)
When you’ve made a mistake or been mistreated, and you’re tempted to feel sorry for yourself, be allured away by Jesus and let him comfort you with gifts he can only give – like peace, rest, and confidence that you’re secure in him.
Even if you’re tempted by adulterous urges of any kind, quiet your heart and come away with the Lord as He speaks to you about His never-faltering covenant love for you; meditate on the sweetness of that and how it affects your marriage and relationship.
Do you see? Every temptation we encounter comes built-in with a loving and encouraging message from our Lord and Savior – this is our escape. If we see temptations as just random afflictions to pass through, we’re missing what God has for us. In fact, Proverbs 26:2 reminds us, “Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight.” There is no random, needless temptation, only a purposeful God that longs to speak tenderly to you when you’re weak and overwhelmed – it’s those moments when we’re most receptive.
“Fear not the storm, it brings healing in its wings, and when Jesus is with you in the vessel, the tempest only hastens the ship to its desired haven.” – Charles Spurgeon