Years ago, I read a humorous quote by author and lecturer Alan Cohen. Cohen wrote, “Lots of people focus on the adage, ‘no pain, no gain.’ For me I would rather prefer, ‘no pain, no pain.’”
I think all of us dream of a pain-free life. When in enough pain, what wouldn’t we do to gain some relief?
But, have you ever considered how many times we are tempted to take the easy way out when problems present themselves? Reducing or eliminating pain is a natural response!
Jesus even warns us that, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But there is also good news! He went on to say, “But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33b NLT).”
And, there were many times when even Christ was sorely tempted to take the easy way out to avoid troubled waters that were ahead of him. One of these times happened just before the Transfiguration.
The scene opens and Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for the cataclysmic trouble that was coming. He explained that he would need to go on to Jerusalem and while there he would suffer many things and be killed.
Peter then took Jesus aside, “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you (Matthew 16:22 NLT)!”
Peter meant well of course. He could not fathom that this could happen to his Lord.
In his feeble way he was tempting Jesus to take the easy way out. “There has to be another way Lord! Right?”
But Christ responded, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s (Matthew 16:23b NLT).”
Hold the phone. Now the lights slowly begin to turn on! What?
And, then we remember…it’s always been there, in the backs of our minds.
We remember…we remember that Jesus spent forty days and nights alone in the wilderness where Satan did the very same thing that Peter is trying to do! Satan tempted Jesus in every way possible to take the easy way out.
Jesus was exhausted, hungry and lonely. “Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me (Matthew 4:8b-9 NLT).”
Yes indeed, the lights turn on in our minds as we see a bumbling Peter inadvertently trying to do the very same thing that Satan tried. If we peal back the layers what we see at the core is Jesus being tempted to take the easy way out!
And, Christ was human. Rest assured both Satan and Peter were offering enormous temptations. I truly believe that the human side of Jesus was very tempted on both occasions.
Maybe in his mind Jesus was thinking, “Don’t tempt me Peter. Don’t plant ideas in my head about how I might avoid the pain that’s coming. Please do not tempt me to limit God’s plan and vision so to only focus on my personal comfort.”
Temptation is the real deal for true Followers of Christ. How many of us have been mired in troubles and have found it all that we can do to not just run away and hide?
There is old imagery of crawling inside a wall and dying. There is the temptation to look for the quick fix, the temptation to ignore a problem with the hope of it going away.
We are tempted to sell out on what we know we need to stand for. We may even reason that if we run today then we can stand to fight another time.
But…at the end of things occasionally it is our time in the barrel, so to speak. We must step up because we know that the easy fix will not get the job done; and, our inaction can quite possibly cause more harm than good.
What to do? What to do?
As always, we look to Christ for answers. Jesus handled his problems by going to his Heavenly Father. “Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me (John 16:32b NIV).”
Intuitively, Jesus knew the path that we would have to take. It was not a path for the faint of heart.
Neither was it a path that offered the easy fix! After all, he was saving the world!
And, for whatever it’s worth, he deemed the price of suffering worth the result. Such was his passion to bring us home.
Weak made strong.
In the Savior’s love.
Through the storm,
He is Lord. Lord of all.
(Cornerstone, Hillsong, 2012)
So, are you tempted today? Does your temptation look like a patchwork of easy fixes?
Stand firm. Through the storm, he is Lord of all.