Col. Rob Maness was at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 when terrorists flew an airplane into the building. He was helping survivors when a chaplain called him over to an injured man. "He was in really bad shape—it didn't look like he was going to make it," Maness said later. "I was told to stand there and hold his IV because it was leaking." He kept talking to the injured man until paramedics took him to a hospital.
For fifteen years he prayed for the man and wondered what happened to him. Fast-forward to the recent Republican National Convention. Maness is running for the US Senate from Louisiana. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry introduced him to another man who was in the Pentagon that day, Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell. It turned out that Birdwell was the man Maness helped save. Both are strong Christians; each is now giving thanks to the Lord for what the other means to him.
On a very different subject: After School Satan Clubs could be coming to an elementary school near you. The Satanic Temple is petitioning school officials around the country to include them in their after-school programming. This is in response to Good News Clubs, a Christian outreach program made legal by a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that after-school programs cannot be excluded on the basis of their sponsors' religious views. If Christians can do it, Satanists can as well, or so they claim.
There's a principle at work here: we seldom see the future consequences of present decisions. That's a fact Satan uses against us, but one the Lord uses for us.
Satan hates us so much that he cannot tempt us to do anything for which the gain outweighs the pain. However, as the "father of lies" (John 8:44) he wants to convince us that the opposite is true. Because we want what Satan offers, we find a way to justify choosing it. We see the consequences of temptation only after we fall to it: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death" (Proverbs 14:12).
Conversely, our Father loves us so much that he cannot lead us to do anything for which the pain outweighs the gain. He loves us as much as he loves his own Son (John 17:23). He always and only wants what is best for us. However, in the moment of obedience we often cannot see its benefits. We see the consequences of faithfulness only after we choose to be faithful. Then we can say with Paul, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).
As a result, the time to prepare for spiritual challenges is before we face them. In the moment, we cannot trust what seems best to us. We must decide now that we will be faithful when the temptation or opportunity comes. Good students study for a test before they take it.
When you face challenges to your faith today, remember two images: Satan as a roaring lion seeking to devour you (1 Peter 5:8) and Jesus dying on the cross for you. Then choose wisely.
Publication date: August 2, 2016
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