Dear people of hope, life happens to everyone and I believe we owe it to ourselves to recognise its pattern: how it flows to and fro us like waves at the seashore. From a religious standpoint, these waves can be classified primarily as: Trials and Temptations.
What is the difference between trial & temptation? One might rightly ask. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life gave this definition “trials are designed by God to draw us closer to Himself and Temptations are designed by the devil to draw us away from God.”
The tragedy here is that trials & temptations happen simultaneously in our lives. So while going through a trial with its pain and sacrifices, we are not immune to temptation.
By trials, God seeks to move us to newer blessings, greater exploits and larger territories. Thus, He rightly causes a situation, challenge or need to arise in our life so that we can be exercised in the right character for such blessings.
Imagine God owns a mall. You walk in & see all sorts of appealing designers. A particular dress or item gets your attention. Now in Gods mall, nothing is ‘too expensive.’ The only question His sales angel ask is, can you fit in the designer you desire? More often than not, God needs to exercise our character into the size of blessing we desire. He trains us through Trials.
Some trials are designed to eliminate certain personality traits. For example, the purpose of a particular trial may be to remove anger or jealousy from us. Often, we do not readily see a correlation between the challenge we encounter and a character trait of ours. So we keep battling the same trial because perhaps, that trial only ends by meeting someone that our anger or jealousy cannot tolerate.
And some trials are designed to build inner strength. It could be loss of a friend or family member, loss of income or executing a project we feel unqualified for. If movies teaches anything at all, it is this; when things do not go wrong the movie characters don’t grow on the audience. We can be thankful especially for the rough trials in our life because without them, character does not develop.
Through temptations, the devil pursues his tunnel vision of denying us entry into that new territory. Temptation is a distraction or path of escape into pleasure we seek from the heat or pain of trials in our lives.
This is how temptation works: Let’s say it took a great trial to get to a certain desire. During that trial process, we encounter some knowledge and learn to treasure them. Then a challenge, charged with temptation, arises and box us to a tight corner. With an aim to short-change us of these godly treasures, through temptation, the devil pressures us to sell out for cheap.
Now, in this life, we’ve seen some situations force people to make the hard choice of selling their valuables for survival and to make ends meet. We know for a fact, such valuables are always underpriced. When we give in to the pressure of temptation, we ultimately lose more than we gain.
The bible tells us that no trial or chastisement seem enjoyable in the moment. In moments of pain and discomfort, we are tempted and pressured with pleasure tools aimed at side-tracking Gods purpose and vision for our lives.
Stories of great people who drifted out of Gods purpose and for a period, were lost to temptation abounds in the bible. We are created perfectly imperfect. The frailty of human nature is such that we cannot always stand upright. To not be overwhelmed with our many shortcomings, let us work with progression & not perfection in mind.
Friends, as we march through life, there are times we will stand with God, but other times we will fall and therefore feel guilty; maybe even depressed. There are going to be times of obedience that give a feeling of exhilaration and of being in control, as well as times of disobedience when the opposite will be the effect.
In any case, it is by little efforts aimed at progression that Gods strength is perfected in our lives. The Psalmist wrote, I have gone astray like a lost sheep: seek thy servant for I do not forsake your commandments. Beneath every temptation is a plot aimed at forsaking God’s word. I’m persuaded that at one time or the other, when life came down to our way vs God’s way, we’ve made prodigal choices.
Unlike trials, temptation is not of God. But temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. The problem is not that we frequently go astray but that our guilt keeps us from looking toward and returning back to Gods presence.
Man is quick to forget. So during a trial or temptation, forsaking bible study, meditation and prayer for days, weeks or months could be detrimental to a progressive life journey of realising mistakes, learning lessons, overcoming pride and finding our way back to the fold like a lost sheep when we go astray.
Jonah, one of Old Testaments most unpopular prophets, while swallowed up in the belly of a fish prayed, “I’m cast out of thy presence but yet again will I look towards thy holy temple.” That’s the spirit it takes. Temptations are powerful enough to draw us out of Gods presence but its our choice either to remain out or head back in again.
A determination not to be defined by the guilt of falling to temptation, a commitment to progression and a steadfast hope in God’s grace both to sustain and welcome us back to Himself is key to mastering the waves of trials and temptations as they come and go in the days of our lives.
Happy new month friends 🙂