Temptation (2 of 3)

by Chad Barron, LMFT

Previously we discussed how we’re all after something, and sometimes in the pursuit of that something we can be sidetracked by temptations. We began looking at Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness and discussed how the devil tempted him with comfort in the form of bread. 

The second temptation of Jesus is a little less subtle. 

“The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” (Luke 4:5-7 New International Version)

Power. Power represents a lot of things, but chief most among them is the ability to be in control. Jesus was gearing up for a ministry that would eventually end in his death at the hands of his own people. Specifically, the people who held all the socio-political power in his culture. The people in control. Well wouldn’t it make it so much easier to do all that healing and feeding if he called the shots? All the shots?

In the therapy room, and maybe even more so in recovery, control is a constant theme. As human beings, we constantly seek control. Control over our emotions, our thoughts, our FAMILY, our lives in general. And a big step toward healing is often identifying those things we can and–more importantly–cannot control. The Serenity Prayer is ubiquitous in recovery circles and for good reason. It goes like this: 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

We often chase after peace and serenity. We think we’ll find it on a beach or a mountain top. Or when we finish that project, or get that promotion. Maybe if we could just get our minds off that set back, that disappointment, that loss, that heartache, that traumatic experience. Maybe if we could just control this outcome, that election, that person, things would finally settle down and we could have some peace. But Jesus shows us here that peace is not on the other side of a pursuit or striving. Peace does not come when we chase it, peace comes when we let go. Peace that transcends all understanding is not on the other side of victory through overpowering and controlling our environment. Peace is on the other side of surrender.

Jesus answered, “It is written in the Scriptures: ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” (Luke 4:8 NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NIV)

That something you’re after. You already have it. It’s already been given. Be still. Let go.

Chad Barron, LMFT