It’s important to see the relationship between Pain and Temptation. The Cycle of Temptation can either be a downward spiral of defeat or an upward trend of victory. When we understand the full cycle of temptation, we can dislodge our short-term thinking and focus on the big picture.
The first stage of the cycle starts with some kind of hurt in our life. Maybe it’s a loss of an important person, or physical pain of some kind. Maybe it’s the ache and vacancy that deprivation leaves when a basic need goes unmet for too long.
This is when Temptation has its greatest opportunity. It enters, offering us the relief and comfort that have eluded us for so long.
Pain and Temptation create in us a new supercharged flow of Creativity and Resourcefulness. We don’t always have access to this reservoir of inspiration that pain causes to well up within us. Creativity can take us in one of two directions.
This episode of Creativity can help us generate some really clever excuses. It can find fresh, new outlets for us to use to indulge our desires. It can teach us how to be wily and not get caught.
The Justification process tells us that we Deserve to feel better because we have suffered so much. We are desperate to find a way to save ourselves and not be overwhelmed by the pain. Surely God will understand.
We can also harness this short-lived period of creativity to find healthy forms of relief and comfort to help us through our pain. We are motivated to find solutions. If there are no solutions, we find other helpful coping systems.
The next stage of the cycle depends on whether we choose to Wait on God, or choose to Indulge our temptation.
If we choose to wait on God, the Creativity will drive us into new levels of resourcefulness. Maybe we will make a new and important friend, or we will finally ask for help from someone who understands. Maybe our prayer times will reach an new intimacy that we never before thought possible. Maybe we will part with some money and buy an uplifting book. Maybe we will try a new hobby that we never thought of before.
The Temptation will pass. It always fades away, if it is resisted. It will pass more quickly if we refuse to dream about ways we can provide for it! But if we keep our eye on that back door, on that secret hatch of escape, on that elusive perfect rush, then our temptation will harness our creative energies and keep itself alive.
After this round has been won in the battle with temptation, the result is a reduction of pain. We have more trust in God, and have added to our stock of internal resources. At the very least, we have avoided adding to the pain in our life.
If we give in to our Temptation, however, there are always consequences. It may be guilt. It may be a feeling of disconnection between ourselves and God. It may be the loss of a relationship or the loss of respect from someone who trusted us. Instead of minimizing our pain, we have increased it. The cycle beings anew.
Here is a chart representing the entire process:
Inspiration for this article comes from Mike Goeke and his message at the Exodus Freedom Conference 2010 where he explained the relationship between pain and temptation, and the endless cycle it creates.