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Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Sleepless in Atlanta

“Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness,” by James Tissot

Every so often my demons- they know me well- stop by.

Early this morning, not wanting to wake my husband who lay snoring next to me, I found myself crouched in silent tears next to the kitchen door, seeking some sort of empathy from our puppy, Roosevelt, (our latest addition to the family) as he downed his morning breakfast.  Pedigree’s puppy chow was his happy, youthful oblivion to my pain.

It was so early that as I write this it is still dark.

When my demons come, usually they have this to say: “You’re a mess-up.”  Or, “you’ve not amounted to anything.” Or, “look at how disappointing your life has turned out.”  Or, “you deserve better than this.”  Or, “things will never be different.”  Or, simply, “you’re stuck.”

The accusations can be enough to send me into a silent crying fit at 3:30am on the back porch.

Funny thing is that my demons come and go, often very unexpectedly.

Life can be going along pretty uneventfully, often with much to be thankful for, when suddenly, with the click of some seemingly random trigger, my sleeping demons are off again in a high speed chase.

I have often wondered why this is the case.  Don’t we reach some sort of spiritual acme even in this life where we don’t have to confront our demons anymore, where the demons have all been put to rest, where we can say with satisfaction that we have overcome?  Don’t we reach a turning point at which, after enough psychoanalysis on a couch or pastoral counseling or sheer prayer, our demons just leave once and for all?  Isn’t there a time when, after we’ve learned to talk to our demons (see “Playing Host To Our Demons“), they become bored of trying to spook us and just move on to torment the next person?

I’d like to believe this.  Indeed, the apostle Paul, at least when it comes to trials such as hardship, famine, persecution or danger, describes us as “in all these things…more than conquerors through [Christ] who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

But what about the demons that don’t appear on Paul’s long list of trials?

Jesus Himself, notably “full of the Holy Spirit,” was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, the gospel of Luke says (as I was reminded in church yesterday); and, if it is true that Jesus, who was human in every way but without sin, successfully resisted the devil, it is also true that Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the wilderness were not some final duel at the end of which the devil would depart forever.  No, “when the devil had finished all this tempting, he left [Jesus] until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13).

In “opportune times” like these, all I’m left to do is cling a bit harder to Jesus, hold on for dear life, and be content not to have the answers.

 

 

 

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