The image of Jesus in the desert, being tempted to take shortcuts, to be influenced by human pride and show, and struggling for his God -given identity is powerful. And then towards the end of the time, satan leaves him, and he is ministered to by angels.
Lent this year, for myself, and maybe for many, has been particularly intense. We are buffeted by temptation, sorrow, grief, despair and at times we can feel that it will all never work out. The aftermath of three years of covid, years of sorrow, isolation and fear have left their mark, and leave us less well equipped to cope with the trials of daily life.
I remember the verse in Luke chapter 19: 41 and 42 ‘ but as Jesus came closer to Jerusalem, and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.’ NLT.
Jesus wept over a people in denial, who didn’t recognise who he was, or the veracity of his teaching. He saw the consequences and the suffering. Today, the national church is going though an extraordinary and agonising time of change. We question is how do we stay attentive to the promptings of the Holy spirit, to listen for the ways of God, rather than the ways of humanity. We need to keep our eyes fixed on our beautiful Saviour.
For me this desert time, has been a time of struggle, tears on my pillow, deep sorrow and questions. I have learned new things about myself which have made me weep. I have also pleaded with God to take my broken pieces and to remake me in Christ’s image, to help me grow closer to Him, and to strengthen me in my inner being. In the aftermath, I have much to reflect on, but I haven’t given up hope, for God is still good, and angels are here in this place, even amidst the exhaustion and the grief.
Gracious God, thankyou for the example of our Lord Jesus, who set his face to Jerusalem, who retained his godly identity in the midst of temptation and trial. Lord Jesus, we are as small children, trying to discover our identity, seeking wisdom in our choices every day, to draw closer to You. Forgive us when we have acted out of pride or naivety or judgement. In desert times, we cry to You for help, but in the aftermath, may we be reflective and discerning, to learn, and to ask your holy spirit to heal us, to pick us up, and to ask for the gifts that will transform us, and recentre us in your loving purpose. May the presence of angels bring hope once more, as we continue on your path, Amen.