Mark 1:12-13 – The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
There is a popular, but drastically inaccurate, theory which has spread a long way in the church of today. The idea goes something like this: God loves you and wants the best for you; therefore, you must never believe that he would ever lead you into a painful situation. Proponents of such a theory tell Christians that, if they will just believe God, they will never suffer.
Apparently, it is sad that such teachers never had an opportunity to tell their ideas to Jesus, because Jesus suffered. Jesus, the only perfect man who ever lived and the true Son of the Living God suffered greatly. He suffered in many ways over a variety of settings. And, when we think of Jesus’ suffering, we most generally point to his death on the cross, a death which, incidentally, was planned by God for him.
In our passage for today, we see Jesus go through a great trial immediately after his baptism. We all likely know the story of how, after Jesus was baptized, he went into the wilderness to be tempted. How many of us, however, have noticed who drove Jesus out into the wilderness? Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into a situation of difficulty, pain, trial, and temptation.
If the Spirit of God would lead the Son of God into a setting of trial, pain, and temptation, how much more should we believe that we, sinful people, will also face trials? We need to learn that our comfort and ease is not at all high on God’s priority list. God is much more concerned about our glorifying him. He is concerned about our growth in him. He is concerned about our having opportunity to prove our loyalty to him through our enduring trials and temptations. And, so he will, on occasion, lead us by his Spirit into times of difficulty for the sake of our glorifying his name.
True believers in Christ must battle the errors that are promoted by the “name it and claim it” teachers in our world. We must never embrace a false doctrine that says that we are children of the king, and thus we will never suffer in any way. We must never even strive for such false comforts. Instead, we need to set our priorities as the priorities of God. Let us learn to put him and his glory first. Let us be willing to suffer loss and pain for the sake of honoring him in our suffering. Let us live to give him praise, and even when things hurt, let us give that praise with all our hearts.
At the end of Jesus’ trial, he was ministered to by God’s angels. This is not to say that he got rich, drove a BMW, was given a nice job, or never felt hunger again. All it says is that, when things got tough, God took care of him. That is a truth upon which we can count. God never promises comfort, but he will provide for our true needs.
Dear Lord, I recognize here and now that your top priority is not my comfort. I know that you love me, and that you will never try to hurt me out of evil motives; but I also know that my pain can be what glorifies you. I pray that you will help me to have a heart set on you and your glory. I want what is best, not what is easiest. Help me to glorify you in whatever way most honors you and grows me. Please lead me, by your Spirit, wherever will most accomplish your will for your name’s sake.