There are times in life where days prove quite difficult. Lonely seasons where circumstances appear to be going from bad to worse. I found the most challenging time in my life was when God allowed the “perfect storm” to bring me to total surrender. I was so certain I was surrendered, but in actuality I wasn’t. I was still hanging on to MY life. I wanted heaven, but I didn’t want to give Him my everything. So I was good with Him being my Savior, but not my Lord. He could give me heaven but I didn’t want to give Him me. Yeah, doesn’t really make sense, if I fully believe that He is the all powerful Prince of Peace, God of Wonders, Wonderful Counselor, Sustainer of Life, Creator of All…GOD.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
On the other side of surrender, I found there to be additional storms that would enter my world. Some were/are merely a gentle thunderstorm and others were/are a flat out tornado! What in the world???? There are lots of reasons for this, but for today I want to remind us that we, as followers of Christ, have an enemy. God gives us quite a bit of information about him, so that we are aware of his ways. Scripture tells us that he is full of pride (see Isaiah 14:12-15) and hate. Remember, it was him who sin originated from (See Genesis 3:1-6). God also gives us insight so that we know he is a liar and he wants us to believe the lies (John 8:44-45). His ultimate goal is first and foremost that we live and die apart from knowing the ONE who sets us free and loves us with an unfailing and everlasting love! If he doesn’t win there, his goal is to cast doubt in the absolute truth of Scripture and try to prevent us from living a life empowered by God’s Spirit. God also reminds us that he is the GREAT accuser (Rev. 12:10)! He loves to accuse us and blame God. He wants us to live in a place of condemnation and fear. Yeah, he is a bully and I don’t like when he comes on my playground! But sometimes he does because sometimes he will and he will want to make our already rough day worse. What then?
When I’m going through extremely difficult times, I often start out with a pretty good fight. I mean, I begin to do whatever I know to do to make things better. I’m a fighter because I have a mom who has taught me to fight well! When things get tough, cry it out, pray and then get up and go at it again. That’s kind of how she raised us.
Interestingly enough, back in the Ancient Greek and Roman days, the goal in winning a boxing match was simply to outlast your opposition. Endure until the end!!! But that takes mental toughness. Spiritually speaking, as the battle gets progressively worse, I often get tired and then sad. I don’t want to do this anymore. This is hard and I want this to pass…NOW. So, sometimes I sulk in defeat for a while, sometimes a long while —–> Just in case you are wondering, this has never been helpful and the opposition knows half the battle is getting us mentally worn out! Yeah, he is a mean one.
“Our God comes and will not be silent.” Psalm 50:3“Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:7
You see to resist the enemy, we’ve got to recognize it’s him. God reveals this and reminds me of how endurance is part of winning the victory, but so is learning to knock the enemy out of the stinking ring!!! We obviously don’t physically hit the enemy, but we resist him!! It is critical! His Word speaks right into my place of discouragement!
Okay…so now I’m ticked because I didn’t realize how involved Satan was in this particular storm! I’m experiencing a little holy anger and I’m standing back up, donning my boxing gloves and I’m coming back at him! Enemy, your relentlessness has just met my resolve!!! God has lifted me, revealed what’s really going on and I’m fully in tune with what He is telling me, which will guide me straight to victory!!! Let’s DO THIS!!!
When we become resolved to fight back, allow God to strengthen us by first turning our attention to who HE is. To remember His power and incredible authority. To remember that He is Sovereign and all things are in His control! The more I am in awe of WHO HE IS the less I am in agony over my circumstances and what I can or can’t control. Humility is the first step to marveling in His majesty and marinating in His peace. Humility leads to victory!
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm, He said: Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? Have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place? Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God…” Job 38:1,4,5,12, 41
My fears begin to melt in the sea of trust….Yes, Lord. I so desperately need this reminder. Pride tells us that we have to do it all and figure it all out. Fear tells us that what happens is for our destruction. Love tells us that God is in control and no matter what or how things look, He will show us the miracle from the mess. He will bring delight to the dawn, once again. He will mature us and make us even more aware of how alive He really is!! After all, isn’t that what we all really long for? More stories affirming of how ALIVE He really is!?!?
This is the first place He will often take us. I am God. You are not alone. I am walking this with you and it’s time to get the bully off the playground!
The more I sit in the Presence of the Father, the stronger I become and now I am ready to put those boxing gloves on and start coming back! I am now determined to see His holiness in my current state of unhappiness. And you know what I begin to see? There is no greater blow to the enemy than when we begin walking in faith and start to recognize His glory. When we stop doubting God for all that is happening, and go with God and see what He produces out of it all!
“And we KNOW that in ALL things God works for the GOOD of those who LOVE HIM, who have been CALLED according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
When we begin to praise Him, the darkness begins to break and faith begins to awaken!
“The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silus, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison…. About midnight, Paul and Silus were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly, there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.” Acts 16:22,23, 25-26
They were resolved to keep their attention on GOD, not on their circumstance and NOT on the enemy!!! Oh, the power that comes through praising our Savior and seeing Him in all situations!
What about when it isn’t with us personally, but our children? They are struggling. I find that I often want to fix or control my child’s problems so that I don’t have to watch them wrestle and learn to trust. We are most certainly to guide, teach and help equip them! We are to pray for them and intervene when necessary, but then there are times where we realize we can’t fix it. ***Dang that’s hard.*** I like to have control. I don’t want them to suffer in any way. But isn’t it through suffering that we recognize our need for a Savior? If we try and make things so that they never have to experience doubts or discomfort, they will not get the training that God wants them to have that teach them to turn to Him, seek Him, wait on Him, praise Him….
Often the real issue with our children, is “we” don’t want to have to trust God while they wrestle. You see, it’s not only that we don’t like for them to have to wait in discomfort and seek Christ, but we don’t want to wait in discomfort and trust Christ. We don’t want them to have doubts and hurts. I so get that!! Yet, we say with our lips that more than anything, we want children who are passionate for Christ. We must ask ourselves what has made us most passionate for Jesus? For me, personally, it has been the fact that He rescued me in the messiness of my sin and in the darkest of my days. He revealed my deep need for Him!! He showed me that it is all by Him, for Him and through Him that we will overcome and live in victory (2 Timothy 4:7)!
And what happens if we are so stinking battle weary that we can’t stand on our own two feet? Remember..remember that HE FIGHTS FOR US!!!!! Believe it!! Oh, I so know this one and have been flat out on my face!!! He gives us His spirit to intercede on our behalf. And, sisters, He places our names on the hearts of His people so that they will pray for us and reach out to us!! He wants us to know that His Spirit is dialing the hearts of others, not only for them to pray, but for them to reach out and let the person know that God is being our Daddy and Advocate!!!
So, today if you are experiencing daunting circumstances, let me encourage you to be resolved to marvel and marinate in the holiness of God; to resolve to stand in faith and to turn your focus to the good that we KNOW He does through difficulty and not focus on the enemy’s relentless desire to have you doubting and fearing what God has purposed to strengthen us!