Suppose you came upon Jesus on day forty-one immediately following his temptation in the wilderness. His face is shining. He’s rejoicing, praising the Father, because he’s won a great victory.
You see Jesus exuding life and confidence. Now he’s ready to face the powers of hell, so he sets off boldly for the great cities that lie in darkness. He preaches the gospel, sure of God’s Word. He heals the sick, knowing his Father is with him.
Now, as you examine your own life, you see just the opposite. You’re still facing your own dry wilderness experience. You’ve endured fiery attacks from Satan, and your soul is cast down. You can’t help thinking, “Jesus never went through trials like mine. He was above all this.” You may see a minister who appears strong in faith; he sounds so assured of God’s presence that you think, “He’s never had any problems like mine.”
If you only knew! You were not there when God called this man to preach and then led him into a wilderness to be tempted sorely. You weren’t there when he was reduced to nothing, cast down in despair. You don’t know that often his best sermons have come out of the testings of his own life. Paul himself warned believers not to measure their righteousness against what they thought was another’s. “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12, NKJV).
We can’t read the hearts of others. Who would have known on day forty-one that Jesus had just emerged from a long, horrible temptation? Who’d have known that the glory they saw in him sprang from a struggle worse than any they would ever endure? We are to look only to Jesus. We’re to rely only on his righteousness, his holiness. He has given us all equal access to it.
God loves you in your testing times. His own Spirit has led you into the wilderness. His own Son has already been there, and he knows exactly what you’re going through. Let him complete his work of building into you utter dependence and trust in him. You’ll come out with confidence, godly compassion and strength to help others.