Do you have times when life feels a bit overwhelming? It may be challenging relationships, loneliness, frustrations with work or family life; they can all make us feel so inadequate and out of control. It’s in moments like these that many of us are tempted to turn to any number of things to help us cope.
One of these ways might be to use food. After all, food is all around us, easily accessible and lauded as good for us in advertisements on the TV. Surely eating will help us through this turmoil, pacify the disquiet inside and dull the uncomfortable feelings. It’s true that we may realise that we aren’t exactly hungry, but we need something to help us cope, something to satisfy the emptiness inside and to bring peace to the turmoil. So, we reach for chocolate, open a packet of our favourite biscuits, dial for a pizza or a curry or whatever it is that is our usual pacifier.
It might be that such a way of coping has been built up over many years
When we use food in this way, though, we are succumbing to a temptation. Sadly, we may later feel worse for having added guilty feelings about our indulgence to whatever was our existing problem. It might be that such a way of coping has been built up over many years where food has become our ‘fix-it’ for our emotional stresses and moments when we feel unable to cope. Perhaps it started when Mum gave us sweets whenever we fell over or had a difficult moment. She meant well, but it may have set us off on an unhelpful path. In this way, food may have become a temptation to self-help and self-comfort and, because of this, it takes us away from turning to God in the crisis.
But God wants to be our help in times of trouble. He is on our side. The Bible tells us that:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
The amazing thing is that the scripture also tells us that Jesus was tempted too.
Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are but did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
If Jesus, our High Priest, understands how it feels to be tempted in crisis moments then He can show us how we too can be victorious. He overcame all temptation and when we are ‘in Christ’ we surely can too.
With His help we can resist falling into those old behaviours that we have used to try to block out overwhelming feelings. Those behaviours that constantly whisper that we are failing as a Christian. The hopeful news is that whatever we have experienced in the past, if we call to God, He will hear us and help us and it can be different!
behaviours that constantly whisper that we are failing as a Christian
The righteous cry out and the Lord hears and delivers them from all their trouble. (Psalm 34:17-18)
So, what can we learn from Jesus about resisting temptations?
Firstly, we read in Luke chapter 4 that, when He was being tempted, Jesus spoke out words of scripture. These words strengthened him to choose to follow God’s ways, even at the most stressful moments. But the words were also a weapon against the temptation itself, the words of scripture are a sword.
Jesus had to choose how He responded to each temptation and, with His help, we will have the power to choose the right way forward too.
So why do we find this hard? Sometimes it is because wounding from our past makes us extra vulnerable to certain temptations. The good news is that Jesus knows where the problem started and can bring the deep healing we need.
What is so wonderful is that Jesus will freely forgive us where we have fallen
We need to ask Him for understanding. Maybe it would be helpful for us to seek out more teaching about how we get wounded in our soul and spirit and then we can open our hearts to let Him touch and restore our hurting places. What is so wonderful is that Jesus will freely forgive us where we have fallen into sinful ways in the past. He is our Healer and Deliverer, and He gives us hope for a much better future.
So, for our part we need to be real about what tempts us when we feel overwhelmed. It is actually really helpful to choose now how we will respond, with Holy Spirit help, in the future when the next crisis moment comes and we are tempted to fall into old habits of coping. We can be confident: the Holy Spirit will strengthen us to resist and arm us with a crucial weapon for spiritual warfare: the word of God.
We can be confident: the Holy Spirit will strengthen us to resist
Now is the time to ask the Holy Spirit to help us find suitable verses to use as our weapon of choice. Now to find one scripture at least that speaks right into our own unique situation so that we have it close to us when feelings seem to overwhelm us in the next crisis.
While we live on this earth there will always be temptations. The enemy wants us to feel hopeless and unable to resist temptations. But Jesus has won the victory and with His help we too can be overcomers.
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