Additional Scripture: James 1:12-13
“A nd do not bring us to the time of trial.” This phrase of the Lord’s Prayer feels peculiar, especially looking at the words “the time of trial,” or, in some translations, “temptation.” Does God tempt us? What does this section of the prayer mean if God does? Are we meant to be free of trials? If so, why can life be so difficult? In this phrase, we are asking God to protect us, so why do we face tragedy in life?
In this phrase, I not only think of personal experiences where I have faced trials, but of the trials we face in my denomination, the Reformed Church in America. We have engaged in many difficult conversations in our life together, especially recently about our denominational identity. There has been exclusion in the church and suffering that has been difficult to navigate. I’ve taken many long, solo car rides with the radio off and have spent many writing sessions where I have talked, mostly yelled, to God about troubles on earth. On many occasions, I have definitely asked the “why” of temptations, trials, and suffering.
In these moments of questioning, I have thought back to this line in the Lord’s Prayer. I remember in difficult times that Jesus never said that following God would be easy; however, I am often reminded that in those moments when temptation or trials come, God is there with me, with all of us.
God is the hope that can be found when everything is going wrong, or when humans or earthly things have been unjust or have fallen short. I think that inclination comes from the promise of God’s presence and divine providence that is spoken of in Scripture.
In these times, we can respond to temptation and trial through reflecting on God’s call for us: How can I respond in a way that honors my neighbor and loves God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength? And in this response, we can trust that God will provide for us and interact with all of creation in these moments. We are not alone in these difficult times in our lives, and there is nothing that can separate us from God.
Prayer: Gracious God, we thank you for this divine presence you bring us that expands all time and space, a presence that goes beyond our imagination. Help us to feel this presence when we are facing the temptations and trials of this life. Your active presence in those difficult times is a comfort, a joy, and an honor to witness throughout the world. Let us look to you for this presence on this day and every day. Amen.
Rev. Anne Elzinga
Rev. Anne Elzinga was recently ordained as a minister of Word and sacrament in the Reformed Church in America. She serves as a chaplain resident at Saint Joseph Mercy Health Ann Arbor/Oakland, Michigan. Anne also serves on the RCA-CRC Disability Concerns advisory team and on the RCA Commission on Christian Action.