He is able to help those who are being tested. (Hebrews 2:18)
Every day we beg our heavenly Father, “lead us not into temptation.” Thoughtful Christians rightly wonder sometimes about this petition. Would our good God lead us toward evil? This prayer doesn’t really make sense!
The problem here comes from translating Greek into English. To us, “lead” sounds like what a dog-owner does when taking Fido out for a walk. Fido prays, “Don’t lead me down the street with the mean Doberman! Lead me to the fire hydrants instead.”
But the Greek doesn’t imply this. It implies that God possesses the power both to protect us from temptation and to help us resist it when it comes. God Himself wills no evil and tempts no one. He has made nothing that is evil in itself. In fact, within ourselves, in the depths of our souls, He has endowed us with powers of goodness that we don’t even know about yet.
That’s why our pilgrim lives involve ‘tests.’ If instinct alone guided us, we wouldn’t confront any tests. We would just chase squirrels and never become any better or worse.
But we have more than instincts inside us to guide us. We have the power to discern. We can strive and struggle to overcome every destructive impulse, and thereby blossom as the good people God made us to be.
Temptations come because we are actually better than we think we are. With God’s help, we can resist, and that brings out the hidden good person within. Being tempted is not a sin; the sin is to give in.
So let’s fight. Let’s hold our tongues instead of carping and gossiping. Let’s try to see the good in others, instead of judging them harshly. Let’s possess ourselves in patience, instead of flying off the handle. Let’s exercise our bodies and minds in prayer and wholesome enterprises, instead of letting ourselves grow dim-witted and lazy.
Yes, our pilgrim lives involves tests. We must pray daily for the grace both to avoid them, if it’s best for us to avoid them, or endure them, if it’s best for us to fight and win.
With God’s help we can pass the tests we have to take. We can earn A’s. Because “He is able to help those who are being tested.”