What to do with temptations

- Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

I would say that when temptations come, the first thing we have to do is to immediately go to God, to run to him, to stick to him as closely as possible. That's simply because God is our rock and fortress, the ultimate source of strength. Missing this reaction, we open ourselves to a long, tortuous episode that can end badly.

Missing this reaction is actually a common thing to happen because in the first place our relation with God is not strong. If ever there is some relation, it is more on the theoretical level and hardly on the practical, much less something that involves our feelings and instincts.

And so, we have to work hard in building up this relation with God if we want to keep some safe distance away from temptations.

If our love for God is hot, the devil will find it hard to get near us, just like a fly would not get close to a hot soup.

Our usual problem is that we tend to be by ourselves when temptations come, and to rely simply on our powers which actually are already heavily compromised since our wounded flesh is an ally of the enemies of our soul. We always have a Trojan horse in our personal lives.

Without God's grace we simply cannot do anything except to fall, if not soon then later. It would just be a matter of time. But when we are with God, we get to see the whole picture, and can distinguish the poison embedded in the many good, beautiful, true and sweet things that temptations come with.

From there we would know what strategy to take. Very often, what can be effective is simply to ignore the temptation and the pour scorn on the evil spirits behind the temptation. This is effective if in the first place our spiritual life is healthy, with faith and love for God and for souls vibrant and strong.

But then when such faith and love is not that strong, the temptations can gain some foothold in us. When we notice this, our reaction should be just to stay calm and not to dare to get overexcited. When there is a storm around, we usually would stay home or at a safe place to ride it out, and avoid going around.

The same with this particular case of temptations gaining some foothold in us. It simply means that God is allowing these temptations to come to show us where we are weak, and therefore where we should do something about.

This is when we have to spend time praying and offering sacrifices, for only in this way can we discern the proper tactics to take advantage of the temptations. Yes, temptations are not all that bad. They can be tremendous occasions to boost our spiritual growth.

We all need to be tested.

Let's always remember that everything that happens to us, including those that appear very bad, are at least allowed by God to happen. And if he allows them to happen it is because there will always be some good that can be derived from it.

Let's remember St. Paul's words: "Where sin has abounded, the grace of God has abounded even more." (Rom 5,20) Let's be quick to assume this reasoning when temptations come to avoid sinking in depressions.

Rather we should be quick to discern God's ever wise, if mysterious and often painful ways of his providence that is meant to lead us to him through the drama of our life here on earth. That's why he is full of mercy, and also wants us to be merciful to one another.

It is also good that we avail of whatever help we can get to tackle our temptations. In this, what is most recommended is frequent confession and regular spiritual direction. That would mean that we are going to God and to a very reliable person to ask for help.

The story of Christ being tempted by the devil after his forty days of prayer and fasting in the desert is a model for us to follow. Like Christ, we should be steeped in prayer and fasting if we want to be prepared to face temptations properly.

Let's not forget that temptations will always be packaged very beautifully. In Christ's case, even God's words were cited by the devil. But then again, if we are truly with God, we also would know where the lie is inserted and, like Christ, how we can remain unaffected by these temptations.


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