There are times when we are assaulted by demons of hunger, which convince us that our souls and our bodies do not have enough sustenance. We hunger for that car or that house or that job or that person we believe will fill us up and ensure our survival. Unlike my friend, however, we fail to get up and get out and search our narrow and restrictive little worlds for the many storehouses God has placed along our paths. We sit in our wildernesses of despair and become prey for demons of self-hatred that offer home delivery of brokenness.
The second demon Jesus encountered was doubt. He was tempted to push God into a corner, to force a demonstration of faithfulness. Oh how frequently this demon appears in my life! When things are less than I want them to be, when my life is not moving in exactly the direction I want or at the speed I desire, it is so easy to demand some proof that God cares. So often we jump ahead of God and move according to our own timing. We convince ourselves that we are acting according to God’s plan, knowing full well that in reality out actions are driven by our own selfish need to be in charge. We jump headfirst into raging waters and persuade ourselves that if God loves us we will be pulled out of the rapids. The reality is that we have learned throughout our lives that even the best swimmer can drown and have been cautioned to wear a life jacket when the water is rough. When we jump anyway and discover the water is too cold and the waves too strong our first thought is to accuse God of abandonment. Faith is not so much being willing to jump into dangerous water as it is trusting that because we have worked in partnership with God to prepare our lives, when we step into the rapids, we will know how to remain afloat.
The third demon Jesus encountered was the illusion of power. Satan promised ownership of all the riches in the world if only Jesus would worship him instead of God. To Satan, that represented power. Now that’s a familiar temptation as well. Jesus had been called into a battle for social justice and healing, a task that would require abundant strength and power. In his wilderness experience, it was probably quite tempting to think of all the good he could do with the supremacy Satan was offering. He could feed all the hungry and house all the homeless and clothe all the naked people throughout the universe. How often do we deceive ourselves into believing that if we had, we would do? I always think that if I won the lottery I would give some of the people in my family enough money to get their lives in order. What utter foolishness!! In my more sane moments I understand that those I worry about most have already received more from me and done less for themselves than a lot of folks in the world. In my wilderness experience I remind myself that when people take responsibility for their own prosperity, when they utilize available resources and work- really work - to embrace joy and possibilities, their lives change for the better. It is pretty tempting to think about how I could create a good and just world if only I had power and money. But it’s not about power or money or anything else. The bottom line is that we don’t run this world. God is in charge and when we trust and act upon that reality, life is good and peace abounds. It costs nothing to care and share, to love and affirm one another.