Only the Lonely

22 01 2008

Solitude is overrated apparently… At least that is what a recent BBC Horizon documentary has found, through tests undertaken on six candidates. Saturday’s Times newspaper ran a fascinating piece in their ‘Body and Soul’ supplement about the effects of sensory deprivation on the human psyche. Professor Robbins decided to repeat some experiments which were originally banned in America in the 1950’s whereby individuals are isolated for 48 hours in a darkened room, with no stimulation or contact. The effects were dramatic, to say the least.

Simon Crompton writes, ‘two of the participants coped well, sleeping through much of the period. All found it profoundly boring, most found it distressing’. Amazingly the effects of this kind of isolation can lead to such phenomena as hallucinations and paranoia, with those involved reporting having seen creatures and critters in their rooms. The isolation also led to individuals being much more suggestible and easily influenced, which is why such isolation serves as an excellent torture technique. I’m looking forward to seeing the whole programme which is televised tonight at 9pm on BBC2.

All of this leads me to think of the life of the Saviour. The one incident in particular which springs to mind is His temptation in the wilderness. If 48 hours in a darkened room can lead to such weakening of the resolve and mental composure, imagine the effects of 40 days in a barren environment with no company but wild animals, and nothing to see but arid landscape. Add to this the suggestions of Satan and the tempting words with which he urged Christ to abandon His purpose, office and ministry. Imagine the physical temptation which the very mention of bread would have brought, and how weakened Jesus would have been in all of His humanity as He faced the onslaught of constant suggestion.

And yet how He conquered, how He overcame! What a thrill it is in Matthew’s account to read of Jesus’ steady resolve, of His manifest deity, of His profound quotation of God’s Word as a means of resisting the enemy. Christ’s power and person were vindicated, and His obedience stood in stark contrast to the unfaithfulness of God’s people, Israel, in their wilderness temptation. Christ fulfilled the Law of God, and also set us a supreme example of how to resist the pummeling and provocation of Satan. What a Saviour!

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