Israel’s History is fraught with times of war, captivity, and destruction. Although The Lord was with them, they were often not with The Lord and He would remove His hand from their military victories, allow their enemies to attack, and sometimes even capture them. He did this to remind them to turn back to Him, to keep His covenant, and to teach them faith. He was always there waiting for them to turn back and speaking through His prophets to His children. We too suffer sometimes. But believer remember who God is and who we are in Him.
That doesn’t mean we ignore the pain or decide that since God allowed it we won’t turn to Him in prayer. We may feel as if He isn’t in the storms we face, but faith reminds us, He is always with us. Verses 1-7 read,
“O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
2 They have given the bodies of your servants
to the birds of the heavens for food,
the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.
3 They have poured out their blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there was no one to bury them.
4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors,
mocked and derided by those around us.
5 How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out your anger on the nations
that do not know you,
and on the kingdoms
that do not call upon your name!
7 For they have devoured Jacob
and laid waste his habitation.”
The enemy’s attacks can hit us very hard. And prayer gives us a chance to hear from God and carry us through. One of the enemy’s favorite ways to attack us is to pay attention and figure out our weaknesses. He exploits those vulnerabilities to make us ineffectual and tempts us to sin to destroy our testimony. Did you know the Bible doesn’t tell us to resist temptation? Resisting temptation doesn’t help us and often leads to the sin we are trying to resist.
Think of it like this, picture yourself as a hungry child who skipped breakfast. There at the Farmer’s Market is a basket full of beautiful shiny red apples for sale. The seller has plenty of apples and looks well fed herself. Your hunger makes your stomach growl and apples are your favorite food. The devil says, “You could easily take one of those apples and no one would ever know. She’s charging a dollar and apple, she won’t miss a dollar! You need it more than she does.” As you keep listening to the devil and wonder if you will faint from hunger, you tell yourself over and over, “I can’t steal that apple. Stealing is wrong.” But those thoughts keep your mind stayed on the apple. The devil’s logic soon invades your thoughts and you no longer say steal, now you think, “I can’t take the apple.” Soon your thoughts become, “I mustn’t take one of this rich woman’s apples” your desire for the apple grows stronger and stronger until you give in and steal the apple.
The Bible doesn’t say resist temptation. Read what it does say in James 4:7-8.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
We do not resist temptation, we resist the devil. In the hungry child scenario, resisting the devil would happen like this, first he would not allow himself to become hungry. He would have eaten the food given to him at home by his father. For us that means reading the Word of God, spending time with God, and letting Him work in us. We do not go out into the world with that weakness ready to be exploited. The devil called the father of lies cannot fight The Truth who lives within us. (John 8:44, John 8:47, John 15:26-27).
What else could that hungry child do in order to resist the devil? Rather than entertain his lies he would recognize the thoughts and stop them. (2 Corinthians10:4-6). The child would ask his father for an apple. His father would likely buy him and apple which would help both he and the apple seller. His father might show him another way to meet his need. If the father were friends with the apple-seller or another person at the market, the child could go to that friend in his father’s name and explain his need and be surprised by the hospitality and kindness friendship exhibits. When we resist temptation it grows stronger. When we resist the devil, he flees. He doesn’t back away slowly he gets the heck out of Dodge as fast as he can. Resisting the devil is done by submitting to God and drawing near to Him, and obeying Him. If we have a relationship with our Father, we don’t sully His name by pretending to walk in His name but really just listening to the lies of the enemy.
The enemy cannot defile our holiness without our permission. Our thoughts become action, and our actions can make us vulnerable to the enemy. But we are weak and we do sin. We can sin so often that we become deaf to God and then because He loves us He disciplines us. Proverbs 3:11-12 says it this way,
“My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.”
Consider our scenario of the hungry child. Had he stolen an apple, a good father would discipline his child so that he wouldn’t do it again, so that he wouldn’t bring shame to his family, and so he would learn the better way of living and becoming the happy fulfilled man the father wants him to be.
Our Father knows us and loves us deeply. He will never allow the devil to tempt us beyond our ability. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says it this way,
“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.”
There is always a way out, so we won’t sin. God’s Word is filled with the ways others failed and sin. Our memories are filled with how we failed and sinned. But God doesn’t care about how we failed in the past, He cares about how we can succeed now and how we will be victors with Him in eternity. Verses 8-10 read,
“Do not remember against us our former iniquities;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and atone for our sins,
for your name's sake!
10 Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
be known among the nations before our eyes!”
It is through the discipline and lessons of the past both ours and those recorded in Scriptures we learn, become wise, and more like Christ. Let’s put 1 Corinthians 10:13 in context. 1 Corinthians 10:6-17 reads,
“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 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.
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”
We are not alone. Jesus is with us. He didn’t die and resurrect for nothing. We have the family of Christ with us too. We do not face the struggles and trials alone. We do not go through discipline, tests, and tribulations for no reason. It is all for the glory of Christ. When we are humbled and submitted to The Lord, He is glorified. When we respond with grace and faith, He is glorified. When we are conformed to Jesus’ image, He is glorified. So regardless of our trouble, let’s rejoice and continue to praise, thank, and worship The Lord God Almighty, our Redeemer.
Remember who we were and who we now are. Remember there are others out there still suffering in slavery to the enemy. Verses 11-13 read,
“Let the groans of the prisoners come before you;
according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!
12 Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors
the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
13 But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”
We all go through times when we face tests, trials, and troubles that seem more than we can handle. Those times are not fun, but we can keep certain things in mind. First, we cannot handle those problems on our own, God is using them to remind us He is God and we are His children, vessel, and beloved. Second, though it feels as if we are all alone and forsaken, we are not. God is always with us, He holds us tightly and He will never let us out if His hand. (John 10:26-30). Thirdly, we are free in Christ. We cannot be taken by the enemy. The devil cannot touch us. (1 John 5:18-21). We are not ever going to be in his chains again. Whatever chains are shackled to us, we allowed to be put on and we can take them off through Jesus.