Life is hard sometimes. This past week was difficult; I had my feelings hurt, was disappointed in some, angry at others. Several small things piled up and caused me to feel discouraged. I got my eyes off Jesus and onto myself. I wallowed in some self-pity and expended energy being angry. I didn’t spend the time with the Lord that I should have, and then I descended into guilt. It’s a vicious cycle because once I feel guilty, I distance myself from God and then am focusing more and more on myself – which leads to even more discouragement!
But God is gracious, He nudged me back in the right direction – TOWARD HIM. I went for a long walk and prayed out loud, confessing to Him how hurt I was by one person and how angry I was with another. I told Him that I know my anger will not promote a righteous life (James 1:20) and that I need His forgiveness and grace. I asked Him to increase my compassion and love for others. I asked Him to give me Kingdom perspective and help me to be bold in speaking truth to others and loving well. I then reminded myself of the many kind things the Lord has done for me, the many blessings I experience, and the miracles I’ve seen Him do in my life and in others. He alone is worthy of our praise and worship!
But we’re told we shouldn’t be surprised when tough times come. I Peter 4:12 says “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” We’re told that these things come our way to test us! A good student expects the teacher to test their learning. Any instructor who teaches a class but never gives a quiz or an exam is a failure! They have no way of knowing if their instruction was effective. How can they tell if the students have mastered the curriculum?
So God, our good Father, gives us tests. To keep our eyes on Him, so that we will look to Him for strength and help. And sometimes we pass with flying colors, sometimes not. In my case, it usually takes a little while for me to realize what is happening and get my thoughts back in order. We’re told to take our thoughts captive and make them obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I obey Christ by making my thoughts obey Him.
We’re also told the enemy is like a roaring lion, seeking to devour his prey (I Peter 5:8). He wants to kill and destroy us. We shouldn’t take this lightly but should be on guard, vigilant against attack. I know the areas in which I’m weak and I know the enemy will try to get me right there. He works extra hard when I’m actively fighting sin (like bitterness) or doing work in God’s Kingdom.
Our church is starting a new project to expand into our city and reach more with the gospel. We also have an exciting women’s conference coming up soon. We are asking the Lord to do a mighty work among us. And along with these opportunities we have seen an increase in attacks of the enemy. Even my discouraging week may be a small part of his plan to squash some of these efforts.
So what do we do? We remain vigilant. We pray.
James 5 tells us to pray if we are sick or weak, in trouble, or happy. That pretty much covers all the circumstances of life!
I Peter 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
And lastly, we believe God will do His work and we fight with His weapons. The sword of the Spirit, the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth. (Ephesians 6:10-18) And we will win!
Thank you, Lord, that You are greater than our enemy and You give us the power to fight and win!