"The Hope in the Struggle" - Amanda Reid
First, there was baptism, death to everlasting life in perfect harmony with God. In Matthew 3, John baptized Jesus “and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Talk about the highest, most triumphant, rejoicing moment, the Son of God fulfilling all righteousness through baptism.
But almost immediately afterwards, Christ “was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the most anguishing days of both fasting and refuting the devil’s temptation in the desert with scripture and truth:
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (v.4) “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (v.7) “For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (v.10)
And then, in verse 12, He begins his preaching the good news. From rebirth and rejoicing to darkness and despair, followed by teaching and becoming the Prince of Peace a fisher of men.
What an exhaustive, emotional rollercoaster of a journey! But we’re assured—as He was—in its necessity, in God’s plan for His Son. Could Jesus have gone straight from baptism to preaching? Probably, but instead God saw fit for Him to be led into the wilderness and tested in all the ways we are tempted and tested by the devil (Hebrew 4:15) BEFORE being able to teach anyone or do any real true work for the Kingdom. Why?
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
Christ suffered, endured, and in so doing He built His character, and produced hope. Without experiencing our weariness and heavy-laden burdens, Christ wouldn’t have been able to reach the disciples or speak to the masses or understand the profound gift of the poor widow in the temple of Luke 20.
Because the struggle is what gives us empathy for one another.
This life is beautiful but it’s also really hard, and sometimes truly painful. Wherever you find yourself this Lent season, I implore you to bring your struggle needs to the one who knows our highest highs and our lowest lows, and then take up the yoke modeled for us in His empathy. Think of the Good Samaritan, many walked passed the afflicted man, but the Samaritan stopped. He paid attention to the need in front of him.
Let your struggle produce endurance, and your endurance produce character, and your character produce hope, and in that hope, take a look around and see who else might be hurting and in need of your hand in service and your hope in Him.
HOW TO PRAY:
Pray for God to help you use the struggles in your own life to build empathy for others
Matthew 3-4 “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘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.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.’ From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.”
About the Author: Amanda Reid is a MSW Student, Volunteer & Friend of KCB