(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Day 26 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comment section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
I am often tempted in different ways in my life as a mother of an autistic child. Sometimes I am tempted to give up and sometimes I am tempted to give in. When I am enduring a particularly long and painful season, and there seems to be no reward in sight I feel tempted to take an easier route. I am tempted to stop trying the things I have worked so hard at, fearing that it will not pay off in the long run. At times I feel tempted to give in to feelings of inadequacy, sadness, frustration and even envy. The word temptation has always had such a negative connotation to me. This chapter helped to free me from that misconception and see every temptation as a chance to grow and live with more victory.
To take this further, here are some points about temptation from this chapter that jumped out at me:
Temptation is just as much an occasion to do the right thing as it is to do the wrong thing.
Every time you choose to do good instead of sin, you are growing in the character of Christ.
Temptations keep us dependent on God. (p. 208)
Temptations help us to develop the character of Christ, or the fruits of the spirit. These fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (p. 202) We need all of these in abundance every day. I really thought I knew what patience was, and felt I was a pretty patient person before I had children. Living with the seemingly neverending demands on my patience that autism places taught me differently. Having an attitude of patience when life is easy is not true patience. Choosing to respond patiently when you are being pulled in different directions and are exhausted is. This doesn't just apply to our children, we all have our moments where we just need to cry out to God and reach out to others to help us carry our load. I want to make sure that I stress that asking for help when needed is a sign of strength, not weakness. Often my patience is most tried when dealing with adults in the community. When I am already tired and frustrated, the last thing I want to do sometimes is respond in a kind and respectful manner to kindly enlighten someone who doesn't "get" autism. Often, the power of our example as we help our children to function in the world speaks volumes. Just not letting someone's stares not get to you or steal your peace as you stay immersed in what you are doing speaks volumes. God's grace and character traits can turn a bad situation into a shining moment, depending on how you look at it. In these instances, this perspective allows me to see these as opportunities and not setbacks.
Since temptation is a tool that our enemy likes to use to keep us from growing, there are also some key facts about how temptation can be used against us. All temptation can be traced to a desire within. It was eye-opening for me to realize that even good desires can fall prey to temptation. I have a desire my son to be healed and set free from autism and the numerous health impairments he faces. This, to me is a very good thing to want. The difficult part is doing things God's way, not trying to take shortcuts or act impulsively outside of His will. I can easily see how the devil can use half-truths and weak moments to try and get me to try and fulfill this desire in a wrong way. We all have our blind spots and need the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit to see them and not fall into these traps.
I liked how Rick Warren made a point to state that being tempted can be viewed as a compliment. As we grow closer to God and become more of a threat to our enemy, he strikes at us and attempts to throw us off course. Temptation is something we will always face. Triumphing and growing through our response to it makes it easier to choose God's way. Even Jesus was tempted, but unlike us he didn't sin. We have a God who knows what it feels like because he chose to experience it firsthand. I'd like to get back to the point that temptation makes us more dependent on God. It is a great comfort to me to know that God isn't tired of hearing my prayers for help in these situations and is always eager to help me. And when we do fall down, He is there to forgive us and help us get up and begin again, one step closer to being more like His son Jesus.
Bible Verses from Day 26:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
-James 1: 2-4
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.