WEEK TWENTY-NINE: ASSAILED
Assailed. Tossed about. Worn and weary from the world. Have you ever felt something like that? It is comforting to me to know we are in good company.
In Luke 4:1-13, we see satan coming after Jesus with all the temptation and depletion techniques at his command. Jesus is in the wilderness for forty days. The word “wilderness” suggests a lack of water and other basic human comforts. He is in a dry place. Verse 2 states plainly that Jesus was hungry. It is in this empty, weakened state that His enemy comes at Him with a barrage of temptations. What did Jesus do? He responded every time with the Scripture that was so familiar to Him.
Jesus had also done one other thing that helped Him stand against the enemy: He lived in a state of readiness. Verse 1 says, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit...” When Jesus was ambushed, He was ready. His heart was full of the Holy Spirit and His mind was filled with Scriptures learned over His lifetime.
Why was He full of the Holy Spirit? If you look at the chapter just before this, you see Jesus going out to hear John preach and asking His cousin to baptize Him. Luke 3:21-22b reads:
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove;
Another important point in verse 21 is that Jesus was praying. Jesus was in the place the Father wanted Him to be; He was living in an attitude of prayer; and He was seeking all the Father had to give Him, no holding back.
So what happened in the end? Verse 13 reads:
And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
That is a pattern I see happening so often with the devil. He assails and assails and assails, and finally he sees that a Christian is going to rely on the Lord and he just walks away. For a while. The end of verse 13 suggests the devil will be back at another time, but for now, he drops the assault of temptations. While you are being assailed, it seems to last forever and may seem your prayers are not being answered, but they are being heard. God is at work day and night to accomplish His purposes through you and to bless you, but the season of being assailed may seem almost unendurable.
Job went through this when satan dared God to let him put Job through trials that would wear him down to the point he would deny God (Job 1.) Satan attacked his property, killed his children, and finally left him miserable with sores all over his body, a weakened and miserable man. Despite all this, Job, though bewildered, sometimes hopeless, and crying out, did not turn against God.
So how did Job’s season of being assailed end? God restored to him twice what he had before. His ”latter years were even better than his former years,” but there was one more blessing that was the most wonderful of all. Job says to God in 42:5:
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;”
So when God ended this season, Job deeply knew his Heavenly Father in a way He had not known Him before. Again, I see this happening in the Bible and in the lives of my friends who walk closely with the Lord like Job did. The sweet intimacy borne out of this type of suffering gives a depth to your relationship with the Lord that is costly but so worth it.
A final example of being assailed was when Satan asked to “sift” Simon Peter in Luke 22:32:
1 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
And there ensued a night of temptation and failure on Peter’s part that is painful to read about. Satan did not just tempt him once but three times before dawn, and he failed every test—that night. But what followed is the real story.
Jesus restored Peter, which he longs to do after we are tempted, whether we fail or prevail through Him. Jesus restores him so completely and magnanimously that shortly later, He says to Peter in Matthew 16:17-19:
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Jesus longs to restore you. He is well aware when you are being sifted. And you may experience difficulty after difficulty, setback after setback during that season as Jesus, Job, and Peter did. Being tested isn’t a one and done deal; it is not a “yes” or “no” one-time pop quiz. Satan’s tactic is to wear you down. During such a trial, you may even wonder if He sees you, knows what you are going through, and if your prayers are being heard. Be encouraged! Time after time we see God’s children coming through these seasons of ordeal more blessed, more in love with Jesus, more full of the Holy Spirit, and more aware of the sovereignty and foresight of God. He will bring you through.
I wrote last week about being under attack. I understand that some do not like that term. Whether you call satan’s ploys an attack, sifting, or a season of being assailed, we all know our God is greater and brings us through with His kind of victory every time, despite how dark the circumstances look.
I hesitated to write about this two weeks in a row, but some of the people I love best in this world are enduring such a season now. Maybe you are, too. I just wanted to say that you are in good company, and God will bring it to an end at the right time for His plan and for you. And you will come out the better for it. Like Jesus, stay in prayer, listening to the Word, and keep praising Him despite your emotions.
Luke 4:1-13 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Temptation of Jesus
4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.