Scripture Reading – Matthew 3-4 NASB
I stepped off the plane with my 10-week-old baby girl into LA’s cool mid-summer weather and immediately began to question why I lived in such a warm climate. I was glad for a break from Midland’s oppressive 100-degree days. It was my first trip away with my baby and, thankfully, my mom was there to make the trek to visit my sister for the week. We had a fun-filled California vacay planned, complete with celebrity stalking and delicious dining. The weeks leading up to this trip had been stressful to say the least. Baby girl had grown exceedingly more colicky, and her reflux seemed to get worse regardless of the medication she was on. Nursing was a nightmare, but I had hoped and prayed that this trip would be just what we needed to get into a new rhythm.
My mom and sister dropped me off at Meg’s quaint home in Culver City as they ran to grab some food so I could nurse the baby and put her down. Even though the weather was cool, the lack of air conditioning in most LA homes (including Meg’s) could make a room feel stuffy. Baby girl was tired and hungry; I wiggled my way out of the most impractical outfit I could have chosen for the day, a romper, so that I could feed her. There, with my clothes around my ankles, the sweat began to trickle down my back as baby girl started to cry. It was that cry. The “I’m not going to nurse, give me a dang bottle,” cry. But I had flown all day, I had no milk with me, and her cries began to turn into screams. My blood pressure and anger rose with every passing second.
With my clothes and dignity on the floor and a crying baby in my arms, I let God have it. I’m not proud of the words I used; thankfully my baby was young and the windows were closed. I blamed Him for the stress. I yelled at Him because the weeks of stress and fits of crying had worn away my resolve. I couldn’t “Baby Wise” my way out of this one. I was a good mom. I loved my baby. I was trying to make breastfeeding work. I had read all the books. I had counseled all my mom friends. Why did my child hate nursing? Why was this the most stressful time in my life instead of the happiest? Why did all other moms seem to just love motherhood more than anything? Why did I feel so alone?
I hurled all the questions, thoughts, and emotions at God in unrelenting fervor. I yelled until I was out of accusations. After a few moments of my silence, I felt a tiny sting. It was as if the Holy Spirit had been watching and waiting for me to stop before saying, “Are you finished ranting, Shannon?” Immediately, I felt ashamed. I began to backtrack. Did I really scream at the Creator of the universe, the Savior of my wickedness, the Guardian of my soul?
I thought I was alone; even God didn’t know what this was like. The shame of my thought washed over me as I thought about God. He is a loving father. We learned through chapters 1 and 2 that God sent Jesus here, to the armpit of the universe, to live with us. He entrusted Jesus to parents who probably lived their whole lives known as “those people” who had a baby before they were married. Jesus’s road to manhood wasn’t easy though much of it isn’t recorded.
Chapter three begins with John the Baptist and the proclamation from God himself that Jesus was His beloved son. Chapter four opens with a story that reminds me so vividly of what will here to for be known as “The Incident.” The temptations of Jesus are not a new story to me. I’ve read it countless times, each time putting little thought into it. But friends, it is an overwhelming passage. Jesus had just spent 40 days fasting… probably mentally preparing for what He knew was ahead. While Jesus is God, we can’t forget that He was 100% man as well. 40 days of fasting was no small feat. He was undoubtedly exhausted, mentally and physically. He was probably beyond hungry and weak, having lost countless pounds during those days. And in this moment, when Jesus was physically and mentally at one of His lowest points, Satan pounces.
Satan, the great deceiver isn’t stupid. And, unfortunately, we humans can be slightly predictable. While I do not believe that Satan can at all control us, he can manipulate and try with all his might to trip us up. He probably thought that he had Jesus. At His lowest, yet with the full power of the Godhead, Jesus calmly and powerfully turned from each and every temptation thrown His way. He combatted Satan’s lies with God’s truth. He didn’t let the twisted nature of Satan’s deception entice Him. I am sure that since He was fully human the thought of brutally defeating Satan right then and there crossed His mind. But He chose a different path. When the Bible says in Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin,” it is completely and 100% true.
I knew in my anger, I had let Satan get to me. He knew where I was weak and exploited me, and I fell for it. I knew that my wrath was really just disappointment over the failure of motherhood to live up to my expectations. God began to soften me in that moment, and while I cannot say with confidence that I never or will never get mad at God again, that trip to California is my personal Ebenezer, my mental memorial of a great work that God began in my life.
Be humbled by the fact that Jesus didn’t succumb to temptation, and be comforted that Jesus knows what it’s like to be human. All I wanted was to feel like I wasn’t alone. And I wasn’t. We never are.