TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS
In the letters section of Bernard’s Weekly News this week I quoted my reply to a Student in which I said: “It wasn’t ‘sent’ from God. God loves you and wants every possible good for you.”
I think that is one of the biggest stumbling blocks of all if a person comes upon a time of adversity he or she promptly “sits down under it,” feeling convinced that God “sent” it and there is nothing that can be done about it. They see God as a Being Who deals out trials and temptations here and there in order to test people’s faith. The quicker they sit down under it, moaning “God’s will be done” (which they conclude is always unpleasant) the sooner will they be rewarded with a run of good luck! But if this is so, why did the Master say: “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them”? Obviously, if we believe something we receive that something, so if we believe that temptations and trials are sent from God, and accept them, making them a part of our daily thought, then we will receive still more temptations and trials!
The real explanation of trials and temptations, is this: when we are fired by some strong and excessive desire for something that is really below our plane of progress (so that we ought to want something better) then we drop down into a state of disharmony because the circumstances in which we find ourselves (through the pull of the desire) are out of keeping with our Real Selves. Then everything goes wrong until at last we realise what has happened, turn right round and start to climb up, desiring what is in harmony with our Real Selvesand harmony results. But think what a hindrance it is to think “God sent this,” and then sit down under it, feeling a bit of a martyr and very holy.
James saw this very clearly for he said something very decided indeed in his first chapter. But before I quote the words, let us get it clear as to what lust means. My dictionary gives it as “a strong and excessive desire.” Right: now here’s James: “Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted of God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (See James 1, 1314.)
So you see, God doesn’t “send” it at all. Once we realise this we can stop moaning, we can accept the trial or temptation as being the result of our own thoughts and then go right on to turn the experience and wisdom gained into a blessing. Thus, James again: “Blessed is the man that endureth (or accepteth) temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life,” and “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that hath given to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
So recognise the source of the temptation or trial. Accept and endure it while it lasts, asking God for wisdom to learn from it and become strong; then receive the Crown of Life, or the long lasting blessing that will follow. Oh, if only people would search the Scriptures as we have been invited to dowhat a world of optimists we should be!
Another common stumbling block is this a when a person prays for something. Then, after a while he or she comes upon some circumstance opposing it. Immediately they are cast down; and waver. There; I knew it was all too good to be true !” they exclaim disconsolately. And give up.
But what does our friend James say about this? ” Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” (James 1, 67.)
What we want is the power to hold on, actually believing that we have received the blessing asked, that it is pressing in on us from the Unseen and we have only to press out, to receive it. If a man asks for something and then spends a portion of his time in feeling depressed, or pressed in, away from God’s incoming blessing, he is a waverer, isn’t he, actually turning deliberately away from the very thing he desires. “Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord”not because God won’t give it to him, but He cannot if a man turns away in his consciousness from the blessing. We receive through consciousness, you see.
Now, just in case you think all these ideas are cranky and not to be taken seriously among busy people of the world, let me quote a letter I received by air mail this morning from a Student in Africa.
He writes: ” I purposely delayed writing to you until I got the result of my prayers. I made a visualisation and I wanted it to become a reality before I gave a full report of it. Yes I have got the result. Belief in the Supreme Being, God, can do great things as it is said in Matt. 21, 2122.
“What is beyond the expectation of man, belief makes it manifested. What human mind cannot discern, belief makes it discernible. What human effort cannot accomplish, belief can.”
“Now I am beginning the story. I have written you that my education was low to fit the appointment of a teacher. I passed only standard six, but with very strong studies God helped me to be a pupil teacher and head of the staff. I prayed to be engaged as a teacher and it was answered. But here comes the dark side.”
“After I had been appointed and made the head of the staff in January, 1952, the Education Department sent a statement to all pupil teachers to the effect that those who have no school leaving or standard seven certificates would be terminated or paid a bottom scale pay of a very tiny amount a month if they remained. A very heartrending affair indeed. I was more than awe stricken and my spirit cooled down at once.”
“When I was pondering what to do I was mysteriously warmed up. I began to think of my Father in Heaven and said: ‘ I am a prince in my Father’s Kingdom. What need have I to fear?’ I laughed and laughed and laughed till I was animated and glowed with an unusual warmth of pleasure, in my heart. All fears were expelled out of me and I felt a being free, even more than a prince at the Buckingham Palace.”
“I began my prayers intensely and did the exercises in your Lessons. These eventful days began from 27th February, 1952. I prayed for the cancellation of the said Educational Department’s statement which was against me. Two weeks from the above date I received a note from the manager of our school that my pay had been cut down to the tiny amount proposed. I was nearly fainted at receiving this note, but yet I lost no confidence. My belief doubled, trebled, quadrupled and so on. I remembered the text in Psalm 34, 9, and carried on with my prayers to God to have pity on the pupil teachers without the standard seven certificates.”
“On the 19th of April, 1952, a note was sent to all of us that the Education Department’s former statement had been cancelled (but the validity of the statement applies only to those whose appointment has just started). This is the result of my prayer and is it not wonderful? Yes, in reality impossibility has no place in God’s Kingdom. Thanks to God and also to Bernard’s Course.”
In my reply I have said: “My dear friend, your most inspiring and triumphant letter has just arrived and I hasten to reply to it by return air mail. How I rejoiced with you in your splendid Victory of Faith! You did indeed ‘hold on’, despite all appearances of lack or opposition, rejoicing and giving thanks to God because your prayer was already answered. So by your ‘holding on’ you did your part the two units (like the positive and the negative of a battery) were connected. God and you were connected by an act of your own free, God given will; His wonderful Power poured through and His supply of what you needed came into visible form. Yes, it is by holding on to God in confident prayer that we receive our blessings. As James said: ‘That ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.’ (James 1, 4.) ‘Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.’ You did not waver, my friend, and God worked His miracle through you. Friendliest greetings.”
So, my dear ones, cut depression right out, won’t you? Instead of being ” pressed in,” press out to God’s Abundant Life.