“You’re not going to find happiness in a piece of chocolate cake.” Ok, I am paraphrasing Laurie from last week’s lecture. But she did say something about chocolate cake not being able to provide lasting comfort when we are facing tough situations.
Is that really true?! I thought chocolate solved pretty much all problems.
Of course, I am kidding. I know, intellectually, that chocolate does not solve any problems.
But Laurie’s point hit home. How many “chocolate cakes” do I turn to when I feel empty, isolated, sad, anxious, worthless or even when I’ve just had a tough day? When I need to be comforted, to what do I turn? For me, I turn inward and retreat. I do something to distract my thoughts. I may read a novel or watch a movie or surf the internet. I may eat chocolate or even pull the covers over my head. Whatever I turn to, it is mindless and meaningless. Sometimes, it doesn’t even cross my mind to stop and pray.
The Lord looks upon our hearts. 1 Sam 16:7 says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Even if I do not confess my sins, the Lord knows them all. He knew everything about me before I was even born, and He knows everything about me now. There is no place I can go to hide from Him. (Psalm 139:7-8).
There is a particular sin I have been dealing with for a long while. It has been so hard for me to understand why I haven’t been delivered from it. I’ve confessed it and pleaded with the Lord to help me overcome it. But this week, thinking about our lesson…about Jesus being led into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and 40 nights and to be repeatedly tempted by Satan, I realized I was like the Israelites who, also were led into the wilderness and repeatedly tested for 40 years. 40 years! God had to constantly work on their hearts to humble them and teach them to obey Him—and He is doing the same with me.
The first time I read that the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, I could hardly believe it. How could they not follow God’s commands after what they had witnessed? They had been delivered from plagues, from oppression; the sea had parted for them so they could escape Egypt! Then the Lord provided food and He even physically led them as they walked, day and night, towards the Promised Land. What was wrong with these people??
After reading the account multiple times throughout the years, the Lord opened my eyes to see how much I am like those people who grumbled at Moses and disregarded God’s law. I have the same sinful heart condition they did. I want to travel the path of least resistance and so did they.
So what did Jesus, our Lord, do when Satan tempted Him? He quoted scripture. We are told in Matthew 4: 1-11 that Satan tempted Jesus three times: to end His hunger, show His power, and grant Him the ultimate earthly throne. And three times Jesus repelled Satan with the Word of God.
I especially like Matthew 4:10, “Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” If Jesus tells Satan to be gone, then by His Spirit, I am empowered to do the same.
This all ties together. When I feel dispirited over this particular sin or wanting that path of least resistance, I know I am more susceptible to the wiles of the enemy. The moment I become aware that my thoughts are shifting to a negative spin-cycle, I must remind myself to fight. To tell the enemy to be gone! To count to 10, pray, and turn to scripture.
I carry scripture with me. It’s on my phone. In my car. In my purse. It’s posted in my house and at work. Currently, I am carrying verses that remind me how much God loves me, so that I can meditate on how He wants what is best and highest for me; He is not some far-off judge who is waiting for me to trip up so He can punish me. I am praying to know what Paul knew:
“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39 NLT).
That includes chocolate cake.
Growing in Grace