by Ibrahim Alahmad
As our church enters a time of prayer and fasting, I recall Jesus’s example in (Matthew 4:1). Those words, “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil,” strikes a chord in me. Honestly, we never think that following God’s leading will take us into a wilderness-temptation experience. Yet here it is, Christ is led by the Spirit of God to be tested. God allowed the enemy to tempt him, even in his most vulnerable moment.
In searching scripture, we find that God does not take us away from temptation--rather, keeping temptation from overtaking us (1 Corinthians 10:13). This testing produces perseverance, and perseverance will bring character, and proven character, hope--which comes from Christ. And Christ died for us while we were still sinners and reconciled our transgressions (see Romans 5).
This stair-stepping progression is not something that happens overnight or just in one circumstance. Rather, it is a continual walk into the unknown where we give up the wheel and let God drive our decisions, checking each choice or opportunity with the question: Is this honoring Him? Sometimes this is an easy answer, sometimes it isn’t. But fasting has a way of bringing clarity in these difficult wilderness situations. So while I may be hungry now, I become more aware of my dependence on God to sustain me to keep going. And he does, every time:
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved - Psalm 55:22
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. - Psalm 73:26
But they who wait on the Lord shall renew your strength; they shall mount up with wings like the eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. - Isaiah 40:31
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. - Nahum 1:7
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. - John 16:33
You may not be literally walking hungry in the desert, but sometimes you may be led into a rough situation, even tempted to take an easy way out. In those times, stand firm, and seek the Lord. He will sustain you; he will give you wisdom through his Word. What may seem impossible to overcome, God may surprise you.
Finally, for those of you who do stumble. Don’t give up, don’t lose hope. Because every time we get back up again, it’s another time we say say NO to the world, the flesh, the devil, and we say YES to God. So long as we keep our eyes on Him, He will renew us and give us the strength to make it through the wilderness ….and back.