What a week! Monday started out with great plans for the day which were never realized. And now it’s Friday already and I feel like maybe our feet are somewhat back underneath us. Forty-eight hours in the hospital with very little sleep followed by twenty-four hours of mostly sleep and trying to reclaim our “normal” even if it might be a “new normal.” That’s been our week so far. I’m guessing that’s why my reading in Matthew 4 this morning resonates.
Not comparing our situation with the Lord Jesus’ temptation. No fasting for forty days before being led into a desert. No face-to-face confrontation with the enemy. No direct temptation to seize the crown while avoiding the cross. Instead, my connection with the passage this morning is with the respite Jesus knew when, after having stood fast in the assault, the devil left.
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me.” 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.'” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him.
(Matthew 4:8-11 ESV)
He’d be back. Satan wasn’t done taking his best shot at the Son of Man. But for now, Jesus having withstood the temptation, the devil left. And heaven’s restraint was removed as angels came and took care of God’s beloved Son in whom He is well pleased (Matt. 3:17).
And I’m thinking that’s part of God’s all-sufficient grace in the trial. Intermissions. Time outs. Precious pauses in the fray. Cease fires in the conflict for renewal and restoration. Times of respite when the devil leaves.
It’s the ability to get back to your morning readings and be fed again by the bread from heaven, “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Some quiet time to drink of the Living Water poured out into our hearts, God’s precious Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39). The opportunity to reconnect with those who, though out of sight for a time, have never stopped lifting you up in prayer. Not quite angels . . . but ministering to you nonetheless with words of compassion and encouragement.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
(James 4:7 ESV)
Our battle, ultimately, is never with just flesh and blood. But arrayed against us, as the people of God, is the enemy of God and his “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). And while the assault can take many forms, though the desert can be experienced in many places, though the temptation can come through many circumstances, if we, by the grace and power of God, stand firm and resist him, he will flee. Oh, he’ll be back. But having stood fast, we will know too the reality of renewal that Jesus did.
The devil left.
Mine is not to win the ultimate war, that victory has already been ensured by Christ’s work on the cross–“It is finished!” But in the battle, mine is to persevere. In the skirmish, to stand firm, putting on the full armor He has provided and to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10, 13). Knowing that He will provide times of refreshing. Confident that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
The devil left. Yes, he has.
Because of God’s grace. All for God’s glory.