Trial and Temptation
The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
The Greek word ‘peirasmos’ means both a trial and a tempation. The fathers of the church used them interchangeably and I am beginning to understand why.
When everything turns out to be nothing like you expected, its is much easier to despair, to fall into self pity, and to ignore God, in favour of getting lost in a never ending introspection.
When it feels like I’m stumbling around in the dark wilderness and the thistles are scratching at my feet, when even walking becomes difficult and the narrow road just seems too hard. Like Gomer, who cried out for the old oil and drink she once had, and the Israelites who cried out for the meat of Egypt.
I was tempted to take a sip of the soothing ointment of the world, that I know to be poison.
‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’
Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
For the first time, I am realising why in the midst of Job and his friends talking about suffering and God Job stands and promises to make a covenant with his eyes not to look upon a woman. For as many times I had read Job, I had never noticed how misplaced that seemed… until it was too familiar to ignore.
Maybe I was never listening when they said in times of tribulation, you must be even more vigilant for temptation.
Distracted by the walls of my city crumbling, my own house has been left unguarded.
‘Your own vineyard you have not kept’.
Songs of Solomon 1:6
Oh heart you have forgotten that the only real danger in this world is sin.
“For I have not stopped saying and I will not stop saying that there is only one thing truly distressing, and that is sin. Everything else is dust and smoke.”
St John Chrysostom
Maybe it’s one of the devils favourite games to keep us wrapped up in our own problems that we forget to ask… When I am squeezed, what is coming out? When I am squeezed… I am no longer deceived. Sweet lemonade or bitter lemon?
I am realising that for years I was saying words, words that were so easy to say. But now I am being called to live. To put into practice the endless preaching. In time, perhaps I will learn to say with Moses that these words are ‘not just idle for you, they are life’ (Deuteronomy 32:47) and by them I will cross over into the Jordan. I will cross over to new heights I know He wants to take me.
In the mean time, I am struggling through the labour pains, I am so anxious to give birth to something beautiful, but I must learn to wait patiently and know that in an INSTANT, God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than I could pray and ask for.
“stop beseeching this or that person for help, and running after shadows – for this is what human assistance amounts to – instead ceaselessly beseech God whom you serve simply to give a nod and in a moment of time everything is brought into proper order” St John Chrysostom
Now if, while a man is walking in the path of righteousness, and is making his way toward God… he encounters in this path some afflictions of this sort, he must not turn aside from his way. Rather, he should accept whatever it is joyously, without scrutiny, and give thanks to God, because God has sent him this gift. That is to say, because he has been deemed worthy to fall into temptation for His sake, and to become a partaker of the sufferings of the prophets and the apostles, and of the rest of the saints who endured tribulations for the sake of God’s path, whether from men, from demons, or from the body. For without the bidding of God it is impossible that tribulations should be permitted to arise; but they occur so as to be for a man the cause of righteousness -St Isaac the Syrian
for it is not God’s good pleasures that those whom He loves should live in ease while they are in the flesh -St Isaac the Syrian