Over the last few months, I’ve had a few of my students come to me with some pretty heavy issues. Whether dealing with a volatile home life, struggling with maturing as a person, or life questions, their concerns centered on feeling distant from God during a hard time. They each told me how they didn’t understand why God was not answering their prayers. I soon figured out that in their suffering, the weight of remaining a faithful follower during the storm was their heaviest burden.
If you’ve never noticed, the Bible is FULL of people suffering, and crying out to God. The Israelites, Job, Joseph, David, Jesus…. The list goes on. My study took me into The Temptation of Christ. I found it interesting that scripture says, “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” As we know, Jesus was able to avoid sin (in this instance, giving in to those temptations), and he was able to do so by using scripture to combat the devil’s advances. Now, while I do believe this is an example for all of us, I don’t think Jesus is doing this only for our benefit. i believe we are seeing Jesus sincerely rely on scripture during a hard experience. The Son of God, who was present at creation, who all things were created through, was relying on the same scripture available to us to avoid sin. Wow.
The devil, seeing that Jesus was using scripture, tries to twist scripture in his next temptation using Psalm 91:11-12. The devil takes Jesus to the highest point of the temple and says, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” What blew me away about this is that, while Satan is trying to convince Jesus to prove God by forcing Him to save him from suffering, in Matthew 4:11, we see these verses from Psalm 91 in life-giving action. “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” Jesus used scripture to navigate a trying situation successfully, and was comforted afterwards.
My students thought that God working in their suffering meant protecting them FROM suffering, not leading them THROUGH suffering and RESTORING them afterwards. Jesus was led by the Spirit into a situation that would be taxing, and would reveal His character as the Messiah, and also grow spiritually as a man. As James says in 1:2-4. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
This is hard for anyone, especially a middle or high school student, but it’s vitally important. Follow Jesus, because He sees your suffering and knows the way through it.