My stomach let out another loud, embarrassing growl.

“How did Jesus do this for 40 days?” I wondered to myself. Although not accustomed to fasting for spiritual reasons, I couldn’t help but think of his desert experience. I hadn’t eaten in over 12 hours and the pains of hunger were starting to set in – some more audible than others.

In the midst of the discomfort, I allowed my daydreaming to begin. Corndogs smothered in catsup danced in my head, next to slices of cheese pizza, ice cream cones and hot trays of chocolate chip cookies. With every stomach pain came the vision of a delicious dessert, or temptation chocolate, waiting for me to devour on the other side of my next-day’s colonoscopy.

It took all of my strength to not break my fast and resist temptation.

Overcoming temptation

To resist temptation to eat, I stopped thinking about food. And later that night, I gave my family permission to slap my hand if they saw me going after a snack.

It was hard – really hard. But, their accountability helped.

Plus, I kept the big goal in mind. If I gave into temptation, I’d ruin the chances of getting my procedure done – and I didn’t want to prep for a colonoscopy again. Keeping this in mind helped make the temptation go away and subside during the night.

Fortunately, I made it to the next day without eating and overcame the temptation to cheat.

Unmet needs and temptation

It seems to me, in the times we have unmet needs, temptation knocks the loudest.

Sometimes we’re aware of it (no sleep makes me cranky, no food makes me want to eat more). But other times, we aren’t so aware.

We can be lonely and disconnected from others. Financially broke. Fighting feelings that we’re unsafe and insecure – especially about the future. We struggle with trusting and believing in a higher power.

How can God be good? Temptation eventually leads to this thought.

In the secret, unmet desires of our hearts, temptation offers a dance. It’s usually a temporary relief full of compromise that blinds us from the trap of bondage awaiting our acceptance.

Luckily, this isn’t news to God.

He’s always ready to cut in and lead us in a different way when we accept His invitation.

God helps us resist temptation

Just like God cared for his son in the desert by arming Him with Scripture to fight back and sending angels and animals to keep him company, God promises to meet our deep places of need.

Especially when temptation comes.

God’s timing and His ways may look different from what we imagine (or hope), but we can count on Him nonetheless.

Sometimes, He brings a Scripture to help us override our thoughts and resist temptation. Sometimes, He prompts a friend to call, write or bless us with encouragement or gifts. He may use a stranger’s smile, an alarm that doesn’t go off (giving us more sleep), or an overwhelming feeling of joy for no reason at all.

The many ways God meets our needs and helps us resist temptation is a mystery, but if we’ll ask for help, we can be sure He will answer.

Scripture

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Cor. 10:13 (NIV)

Reflect

Are there any unmet needs I have leading me to unseen temptations? How can I pray and ask God for help?