GROWTH IN CRISIS


Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” (Lk 4: 1-4)

Here Jesus is feeling “famished,” that is, He has come to the point in His fasting where He needs food…or else. So this is a “crisis,” which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a turning point for better or worse,” and “a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.” I’ll note that a “crisis” is connected to an intense need of some sort; when I perceive that something is lacking, and I need to do something about it.

Note also that this perception of something “lacking” can be false. We can perceive an intense “need” for people, places, things, or conditions that we may not need at all; or not in the way we think we need them. We are particularly vulnerable to such “temptation” when we are hungry, lonely, or tired. These states of mind or body can force us into a decision that is wrong; a decision to misuse our God-given gifts, our powers of argumentation, or beauty, or authority, or money, to acquire that which we think we need to fill our void. While this is no easy “temptation,” the decision we make at this point can lead to immense growth. If we resolve the crisis in God, in His nurturing presence, handing it over to Him and earnestly relying on His help, we make an empowering step toward Him and grow. And we acquire experience, which we can then share with others, empowering others around us. That’s how our Lord comes out of this situation, as it says at the end of this passage: “Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee.” (Lk 4: 14)

Today let me let Him in, and fill my void. Let me reach out in humility and service to other people, in light-filled fellowship, in His Spirit, when I have the need for help. And let me let God discipline me in His simple ways, taking care of my physical and spiritual needs according to His rules of love, compassion, and humble self-acceptance. Amen.

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