In Mark 1:11, Jesus rises from the waters of baptism and is greeted by God the Holy Spirit and God the Father who states simply his deep pleasure in his son: You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.
The struggling, faltering believer hardly dares to hope for a similar approval from God, and yet Romans 8:38-39 is direct: I am sure that… [nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In other words, when we stand in Christ, we stand beneath the glowing approval of God when he utters the words “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The very next words in Mark’s gospel are calculated to detonate at the heart of our legalistic, self-righteous, if-things-are-going-well-I-must-have-God’s-approval mentality. “The Spirit immediately drove [Jesus] out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.”
God showers loving approval on his son, then immediately drives him into the wilderness for a time of hunger, loneliness, and temptation.
If you are in the wilderness of testing, do not automatically assume that you got there by your works as if God was getting back at you for some sin or weakness or failure. If you are in Christ, it is his works in which you stand and they are all righteous works. You stand approved by God in Christ! And you have the privilege to share with Christ in his sufferings. And it is in this very assurance of God’s approval that we are best prepared to overcome the temptation in the wilderness.
Grace to you.