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written by Matt Shaner

When I was in high school, I signed up for the Mock Trial Team.  We were a group of kids split into lawyers and witnesses, given a case that we would try down at the court house in Norristown.  The jury was filled with lawyers who scored us on performance and an actual judge delivered a ruling.

I signed up as a freshman and, that year, was the only freshman lawyer on the team.  I thought, why not go all in, and do the closing statement.

I remember sitting in the courtroom, a nervous wreck as the other lawyer/student finished up their statement.  When they sat down, my teammate turned to me and said:

“You’re on Broadway baby.”

It was a sentence that stuck with me for years, one I’d whisper to myself to calm my nerves before challenges.

We are all called to the stage at certain points in life.

In the Gospel of Matthew we read about Jesus and his time in the desert.  After a long fast he was hungry and the Bible tells us that the devil arrived to have a little conversation. On three separate occasions he is made an offer or a challenge. 

First he is challenged to turn stones into bread, then to jump off the highest point in the temple, and finally bribed to bow down in submission. 

Jesus turns the devil away each time quoting the promises of God.

Hollywood loves the battle between Good and Evil. They spend time and money on special effects and dramatics.  In real life, it is not smoke and mirrors.

It is the base level of human existence.  It is the itch of addiction in the battle of sobriety. It is the call of despair at the third Late Notice bill in the mail.  It is the family member in trouble again, tearing your loved ones apart.

In the movie The Devil’s Advocate, a modern retelling of Milton’s Paradise Lost, the actor Keanu Reeves delivers a powerful line as he says, “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”

So how do we continue in the midst of the fight, when we are walking hungry and tired in our own desert?

In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul tells us:
 “ And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When you are pressed, never forget:
-Use the Word of God. Memorize verses and claim their promises against the darkness.
-You are never alone. As the angels tended to Jesus, we have friends, family, loved ones and brothers and sisters in the community of faith.  Don’t be afraid to reach out.  Someone will be there to answer the call.
-You are loved. You are loved with the most powerful love in the universe and nothing can take it away.
You may be reading this right now and feeling the pressure. Keep walking. Call on God and you will make it out stronger and more prepared for the next trial when it comes.

READ // 
Matthew 4: 1-11
Romans 8: 31-39

Every story in the Bible has meaning and application for today. Read through Matthew 4:1-11 again. Why does God allow Jesus to be tempted in the desert? How does it speak to our materialistic world today?
Jesus has a chance to end his hunger, test the reliability of his father, and gain all worldly power.  Think about those offers.  Put yourself in his place. How would you answer?
We are all shaped by our past experiences. When you read, in Romans, that nothing can separate us from God’s love, how does it make you feel? How does the reality of God’s love impact your outlook on life and the tough times?
Think of a family member, friend, or coworker going through trials this week.  What can you do to be there for them and reflect God’s love in their life? Make it happen.  You’re on Broadway!

Please God be with us in the pressure and the hard times. Show us the promises in your Word. Help us to know we are never alone and that nothing can separate us from your love.
Matt Shaner is a writer, father, husband, and believer. He obtained his MFA in creative writing from Fairfield University and has published multiple short stories, two novellas, and a novel. You can find his work and thoughts on his personal blog. 
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