by Shannon Wagers
College enrollment in the U.S. has increased significantly from about six million in 1965 to almost twenty million today. More people now than ever are seeking higher education. I was the first person in my family to ever attend college.
I did quite well in high school. I took advanced placement courses and graduated in the top of my class. School often came easy to me. I barely cracked a book in high school. It was rare for me to have homework I couldn’t handle on my own. Because of my success in high school, I decided to go into a field that challenged me the most. I found chemistry intriguing and enjoyed the labs. I had a great high school chemistry teacher, and to this day I still keep in touch with her decades later. But here’s the thing: I had no idea what I was signing up for.
A Torturous Test
Freshman chemistry was basically a repeat of high school— in fact, we used the same book. In my sophomore year I started Organic Chemistry, which is a wake-up call for many. Organic Chemistry is a “weeder” course that is meant to separate out those who are capable and those who are not. Some of my classmates started to fall out and changed majors. The tests were intense. This was no cakewalk. But those who put the work in passed.
Then we all hit the wall. Physical Chemistry. This possibly was the hardest course I have ever taken. We’re talking those nonsensical equations you would see Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory working with. The tests were at night, several hours long each, and we were begging for more time to complete these. Passing grades in this course were on a curve. Essentially, getting a score of 50% was an “A.” The professor was a martial artist, and we would joke that he was like the Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese from the The Karate Kid movie franchise. “No mercy!”
Single-handedly, the worst test I ever took in my entire life was in Physical Chemistry. My fraternity had a softball game scheduled that afternoon. With the exam looming that evening, I passed on my bat bag and my responsibilities as team captain and to my little brother.
It just so happens that the softball fields were across the street from the chemistry building. I was heading there to study before the exam but wanted to say “Hi” to my brothers before they played. As luck would have it, they were a person short. My little begged me to play to prevent the forfeit. “You can just catch for us, nothing major.” I reluctantly agreed.
The good news is that I was two for two at the plate with two walks and a few RBIs to help us win the game. The bad news is that I had a collision at home plate with a player from the rival team. My ribs were hurt. It turned out that they were badly bruised, and I had a major test awaiting. This test was torturous enough mentally. Add on the wheezing and coughing with bruised ribs, and it felt completely excruciating.
I am thankful that since that day I have never had another experience like that. We all face tests. Maybe you’ve never had a day quite that bad as me, but at some point, we learn life is full of problems, pressures, and stresses. We can hold strong that God knows what we are facing.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:6, 7, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (NLT).
No doubt you’ve faced some temptations in life. Do any of these sound familiar?
—Cheating others to gain success?
—Not keeping your word?
—False security in worldly prestige or money?
—Neglecting your spiritual life?
We can stand firm knowing that Christ faced temptations from the adversary in the desert. We have a sympathetic Savior who knows exactly what we are facing every day.
God’s Word tells us in Hebrews 2:17, “Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people” (NLT).
I love how BibleRef.com explains Hebrew 2:17:
“The Messiah, Jesus Christ, came in the form of a man, rather than being an angel. In order to serve as a true example, He had to experience our human suffering and temptation. By doing so, Jesus was able to become the ‘Captain,’ or the ‘Founder,’ of our salvation. His resurrection breaks the slavery we experience over our fear of death.”
Trust, Don’t Test God
We must remember that God does not tempt us. He tests us, but he does not tempt us to sin. James 1:13, 14 explains, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, ‘God is tempting me.’ God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (NLT).
More often than not we are faced with subtle temptations of sin that seem harmless but begin to pull us away from God. There’s nothing wrong with eating a cookie. But eating a third or fourth cookie because we struggle with self-control can easily lead us down the wrong road.
Here are some practical reminders on how to overcome temptation just like Jesus did:
- Know the Bible, God’s Word, so that you can use it as your offensive weapon.
- Serve and worship only God through prayer, worship, reading his Word, and praising his name for the countless blessings he provides you every day.
- Rebuke the devil. James 4:7 instructs us, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (NLT). It’s a challenge, and it’s a promise.
As we move toward Easter Sunday this year, our church is embarking on a teaching series called “Jesus Walks.” The theme of this study is that Jesus came to earth to do exactly what God wanted him to do. And, if we want to follow Jesus, we will be people who deal out hope and treat others with love and kindness. Yesterday at church we talked about how Jesus overcame the temptations that his adversary, Satan, threw at him. He did so by combatting them with the Word of God. Beginning today, I invite you to come along on this “Jesus Walks” journey with us. There is a five-week Bible reading plan that begins today and continues through the Friday after Easter. Getting into God’s Word 10-15 minutes a day will go a long way in helping you face the tests that come your way. If you want to join me on this journey, you can download this travel guide here.
Shannon Wagers is a Corporate Trainer and Master Facilitator for P&G’s Innovation Lab called “The GYM.” Shannon resides in Liberty Township with his wife Ruth, daughter Katherine, and dog Bear.