Now and Always
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.: But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' " Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.' "
Jesus said to him, "again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.' " Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Matthew 4: 1-11 (NRSV)
Marilyn Dorn is from Virginia. The COVID-19 pandemic filled Marilyn with anxiety. The waiting and disruption of normal life made her think of the time when her friend Jane, a hairstylist, injured both hands and became unable to work. In addition to not earning money, Jane couldn't cook or clean or do much of anything else. Her sons helped around the house, but Jane's doctors told her she would have to wait and see if her hands would heal. Jane didn't know what to do, so she started spending hours each day praying and reading scripture. After about two years, her hands did heal and she was able to return to work.
Jane didn't know how long she would have to wait for healing. Similarly, as Marilyn writes this, no one knows how long it will be before our lives can return to "normal." And as we ponder Jesus' wilderness experience, it occurs to Marilyn that the Bible doesn't say whether Jesus knew how long he would experience the anxiety of the unknown?
The one thing we do know is that God is with us - now and always. And like Jane, we can pray and read scripture. Marilyn's prayers may be as much complaint and lament as gratitude and joy, but communicating with God and meditating on God's word always gives her hope.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for being with us in the wilderness. Help us to keep in touch with you and to share your love with others, in Jesus' name. Amen.