Dear brothers and sisters, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
The Value of Trials and Temptation
Trials, tribulations, and temptations come our way often in life. They are difficult experiences and problems that confront us daily. Primarily, trials and temptations are situations of life that present one with the choice of being faithful to God or unfaithful to one’s obligation to God. When one perseveres through them, they become a valuable asset to faith, but when one falters in their presence, the consequence becomes dire, resulting in sinful nature that leads to death. Thus, they become the make-or-break moments of one’s life.
St. James tells us to consider it a great joy when trials of many kinds come upon us. Such trials, he says, produce perseverance of faith (James 1:2). With perseverance, endurance, and steadfastness in trials and temptation, one wins the prize of life and the crown of glory, as St. James tells us in the first reading. Trials and temptations are valuable to faith. They are used to prove the worth of our faith (1 Pet 1:6-7), and they purify the soul, too.
Trials and Temptation Versus Sin
Interestingly, trials and temptation are not synonymous with sin, even though when one follows the wrong desires of trials and temptation, one plunges oneself into sin that eventually leads to the death of the soul (James 1:14-15). Jesus Christ was tempted, but He did not sin (Matt. 4:1ff; Lk. 4:1ff). He did not give in to the desires of the flesh, which was the subject of the temptation, nor did He obey the devil, who was the tempter.
How Does One Stand Firm in the Midst of Trials and Temptation?
It is important to stand firm and not falter in the midst of trials and temptation. However, it is not always easy as the lures of temptation are so enormous and the attractions so strong, in most cases. These few guidelines can help us when faced with trials and temptation.
1. Be Prayerful
One of the ways of remaining steadfast in the face of temptation is by being prayerful. Jesus told his disciples to watch and pray that they may not enter into temptation (Matt. 26:41). The same instruction from our Lord is equally valuable for us today. Prayer is the key. In prayer, we commune with God and establish a relationship with Him. In prayer, we ask for God’s help and assistance on things and burdens difficult for us to carry. St. Paul assures us that God is faithful and when we are tempted, He will show us a way out that we can endure (1 Cor. 10:13). We need to be prayerful and be consistent in our prayer life to stand the chance of defeating the devil, the tempter.
2. Anchor to the Word of God and Wear God’s Armor
We must clothe ourselves with the armor of God and anchor our lives to the word of God. Scripture calls the word of God the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). The sword is always a necessity in every fight or battle. Resisting the devil is a severe battle; a severe spiritual battle. The word of God is essential in resisting the tactics of the devil. Jesus Christ used the word of God to defeat the devil. Knowledge and faithfulness to the word of God help one make the right choices, choices that keep one’s fidelity to God and not give in to the desires of the flesh.
3. Flee From the Tempter and the Temptation
This is a good option too. It could mean fleeing from occasion, situation, subject, or object of the temptation. It means recognizing the situation for what it is and moving away from it without any compromise or hesitancy. Unfortunately, when many people are faced with temptation, they do not flee. Instead, they dabble in it, deflect it, postpone it, or analyze it; some even embrace it. The point is that one should not dilly-dally with the devil or employ arguments to outwit the devil.
Always remember that Jesus loves you!