Pain is part of the journey of life. We experience it in a variety of ways, at different levels and times, as we move through life.
Mention pain and many of us will automatically think of the physical pain which results from accidents, diseases or medical conditions which we may have had, or that we are currently enduring. Some us will have experienced emotional pain through adverse circumstances or challenging relationships with those around us, which have impacted our lives to a greater or lesser degree. We may also have experienced a sense of spiritual pain when grappling with questions of faith, or encountering doubts or darkness, along our spiritual path.
In Lent we recall and ponder on Jesus’ time in the wilderness. A time apart from all that he had grown up with and that was familiar to him. A time of prayer and fasting. A time of preparation for his ministry and mission.
As I have been pondering on Jesus’ time in the wilderness I have been struck by the fact that even though he was the Son of God, he entered the wilderness in a fully human capacity. He would have experienced the physical symptoms of fasting, the headaches, the hunger pains, the listlessness. He would have experienced the extremes of temperature in the wilderness and their impact on his body. He did not have a rucksack full of modern day equipment, to help him endure the conditions of the terrain!
Emotionally he was bereft of his earthly family, friends and community and their support and encouragement. Similarly I have wondered how they fared during his time away and whether Mary had an inkling that this time away was to mark the beginning of the mission and ministry that he was destined to fulfil.
Spiritually this was a testing season and one which he never wavered from.
He countered all the devils taunts and suggestions with the words of Scripture. He was not prepared to be pushed into demonstrating his power prematurely, waiting instead for the Father’s direction and timing.
After the third temptation, when the Devil tempted him with all the Kingdoms on earth, if only Jesus would bow down and worship him, Jesus declared,
“Go away enemy! For the Scriptures say: Kneel before the Lord your God and worship him only.” At once the accuser left him and angels suddenly gathered around Jesus to minister to his needs. Matthew 4:10-11 TPT
I would like to invite you to take a few moments to enter into stillness and then to take an imaginative journey into the wilderness to find Jesus. As you enter the wilderness, notice the terrain, the weather, the temperature and as many details as possible.
- Where do you encounter Jesus?
- Do you approach him straight away?
- Or do you observe him from a distance before approaching him?
- How does he respond to you?
- What do you want to ask him about his time in the wilderness?
- What does he tell you?
- Take time to dialogue with him.
- Then when you are ready say goodbye to him and return to the here and now.
In his book The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis writes:
- We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
- “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23.10 NIV
Take a few moments to ponder and reflect on the quote and/or the Bible verse and listen for what God wants to say to you through them.