As I was meditating on what ruthless trust* looks like, I thought of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
After 40 days of fasting, he is hungry. The tempter tells him he can make stones into bread to satiate his hunger. Jesus is taken to the highest point of the temple and told to throw himself off of it because surely God will protect him. Finally, he is taken high up on a mountain and told that if he’d only bow and worship Satan, he would receive everything he saw.
I believe these temptations are common to man. I also believe that each of these temptations, at their heart, is a temptation about trusting God.
First, the whispering doubt is “Are you really sure God will take care of your needs? You know, you could be sure they’ll be met by taking care of them yourself…”
I hear this doubt over and over again in regards to eating, one of my greatest personal struggles. I wonder whether eating healthy, the way God designed me to eat, will ever be enough. I’m sure any of our human appetites brings out this doubt, especially when our flesh is at war with who God is calling us to be.
The second whisper wonders, “Are you sure God will really protect you from harm? What if he lets you fall? Would a good God really allow something bad to happen to you?”
I’ve cogitated on these questions many times the past few years. Like a cow working a cud, I chew on it; swallow it, thinking I’m done. Of course, then it comes back up again and I chew some more. Ruthlessly trusting God transcends our circumstances, both good and bad. God’s trustworthiness isn’t dependent on our circumstances.
The final whisper plants especially dangerous seeds, “Maybe the ends justify the means…You’d only have to compromise for a moment and you’d have everything. Think of what you could do with all that!”
I often wonder whether waiting for God to act is enough. I imagine that if I push harder, work longer, or do more things that somehow everything will fall into place and I could make a big impact for God’s kingdom. Nevermind that God made me with limits and a need for dependence on him.
At the heart of each whisper is a lack of trust in God. Jesus was able to resist these temptations and fully trust God, but I don’t think I’m so faithful.
I preached on this passage a few months back and had an “ah-ha” moment when I realized that the text is alluding to Israel’s time in the wilderness (Jesus quotes Deuteronomy each time he responds). They failed each of these temptations. They had a distinct lack of trust, just like I do.
I believe that Jesus was making right what we get wrong. I wonder whether ruthless trust for me today isn’t doing what Jesus did, but instead allowing Jesus to do what only he can on my behalf: allowing him to fight my battles and define what truth really is when the doubting whispers inevitably come.
*[the title of a Brennan Manning book that my small group read last year]