Our own Desert Experience

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Nearly everyone, whether they’ve actually been to a desert or not, can relate to today’s gospel story of Jesus’ temptations.  We’ve all been in “the desert,“ and experienced our own sort of “desert trials” when hard times come, either through life’s personal losses, family conflicts, or other events where we feel alone, abandoned, helpless.  We all know how that can feel.  We also know that during our desert experience, we might have to face a variety of temptations, to loneliness, anger, or bitterness; we might even lose hope that better days are possible.

The good thing about desert experiences is that they’re an opportunity to get to know ourselves in a new way. What are our limitations?  What are our deepest desires?  What mistakes have we made?  How do we react when we can’t have what we want?  Will we take risks with our God-given lives in order to feel powerful?  Will we presume that God will rescue us from the natural consequences of our – or someone else’s – mistakes?

We’ll also learn about our strengths.  Do we have the energy we need to cope?  Do we turn to our faith in God for support? And, if our faith falters, do we have the strength and humility to allow others to help us and pray for us?

When our time in the desert is over, we, like Jesus, are likely to find our lives leading in a different direction.  Jesus returned from the desert ready to begin his new mission, and we can do the same.  The joy of Easter and the new life that we will soon see in springtime always brings new life.

Neither the desert, nor Lent, lasts forever. Fortunately, we are blessed by Jesus’ example. Jesus told the Satan not to test God, but to worship God, and to live by the Word of God.

Good instructions; we can do this as well.  We can see our own, unique personal temptations for what they are, and know that they will be overcome by our commitment to Jesus and the love that we give to God, and the love with which God envelops us.

Dorothy A. Hathway, CSJA