“He has left him for a little while.” Isa. 54:7
One of the realities that is common to all persons is the experience of the creative storm called temptation. Dietrich Bonhoffer wrote:
“Temptation is a concrete happening which juts out from the course of life.”
The use of the noun ‘concrete’ in Bonhoffer’s statement is powerfully redemptive.
The word ‘concrete’ is from the Latin concretus, and means to grow, or be solid; from com,-together, and crescere, to grow…or having a material, perceptible existence. In other words, temptation is a real specific experience, not general or abstract that enters the life of a person. The temptation event does not come with a warning before its precipitous happening or occurrence. On the contrary, it comes unexpectedly and there is no time to prepare for its inauspicious and unapologetic intrusion.
The temptation event suddenly comes and presents an opportunity that heretofore was not there for us. We believed ourselves to be singularly estranged from such mundane opportunistic misgivings. But the temptation was accompanied by a strange and bewildering excitement. Its hypnotic power trampled upon our most cherished beliefs.
The temptation must come with unanticipated power to contort or transform my heretofore unconquerable resolve. Temptation comes to havoc my deepest intentional resolve and sweep away my most authentic designs. Temptation comes as a benign and supportive friend while grasping firmly behind its back the dagger of icy betrayal with which to slay my life.
Temptation is the testing of my inherent strength. Suddenly, an individual is thrust upon the stage of an existential play. However, this is not the Theatre of the Absurd because my life is the play. This is no vicarious experience. I am the experience and the outcome of the temptation is kept secret to me-or is it. The temptation wants to alter me in some mysterious manner that I cannot conceive. Suddenly, I am a spontaneous recruit, it seems, to interrogate my own life.
Temptation would not be temptation if it lacked the power to substantively interrogate my life. The interrogation of my life may be lost upon me if it I am overwhelmed by the chilling suddenness of temptation. But alas, temptation does not come with ruthless power to win me as co-conspirator to betray my life. It must come to me winsomely, or handsomely if you will, with a hint of undetectable flattery that strokes my pride ever so gently.
It is at that moment, when heart and head have grown weary of resisting the siren song of temptation that the weary head, so tired of heroic resistance (see the Sampson Narrative) lay upon the lap of the dark mistress.
What temptation are you facing today? Have you found yourself fighting with Stoic resolve to win the fierce battle of temptation? My friend, the Iesuos is there through the power of the Spirit the Holy One to give you the power to save you amidst the hour of your temptation trial. This is the essence of Clinical Theology: The Iesous is Pro Me and He is there for me in the present tense.