I am giving up chocolate for Lent! Not an easy thing for me at all. Usually I take up something in Lent rather than give something up – often what I do relates to random acts of kindness. But this year as a church we are supporting the End Hunger Fast campaign and I am fasting from chocolate. Chocolate has been a comfort food for as long as I can remember and partly I am giving it up to focus on drawing strength and comfort from God and also as it is a discretionary item and I can use the money I would spend on chocolate elsewhere.
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness and he was tempted. What I like about this is that Jesus didn’t seem to do anything to be tempted but follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. While I don’t necessarily think it will be the Holy Spirit who tempts me to eat chocolate, I am encouraged by Hebrews 4.15-16:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
While I may have need to pray for the ability to resist chocolate there are also some more serious things I may need to reflect on too over Lent. Some of the commentators on the temptations passage talk about how the temptations can be seen as an attempt to deflect Jesus from his purpose. One of them talks about the temptation to do the good not necessarily the best, that is always a challenge as there is so much good we can do but sometimes knowing what is best means waiting on God and discerning, often in community. I can sometimes be tempted to make quick decisions or want things to happen faster than they seem to – I can try and do in my way what God is doing in God’s way. In that way the word of God can be helpful and the way Jesus responded to the temptations encourages us to trust God, worship God alone and not to test God.
One of the reasons for posting this blog today is to go public with what I am doing for Lent as it is often in community that we find the support and encouragement to follow God’s leading and guiding. Jesus went into the wilderness alone, much of the time we don’t need to do that as we together seek to follow the difficult Lenten journey that culminates in the sorrow of Good Friday, the emptiness of Easter Eve and eventually the joy of Easter Day.