So here’s the thing. My daughter and I have been on a no sugar, no white flour diet for almost 3wks now. I had every intention of doing a big ‘ole blog post on how wonderful it is, why we’re doing it, changes we’ve seen, favorite recipes, etc. But. Life has a funny way of changing intentions, and while I still want to share all of that with you, that is a post that will have to wait for another day and time.
Because here’s the thing. Trials and tribulations come our way. No rhyme or reason, just a product of living in this fallen world we live in. We each have our own struggles and battles. None is more or less important than another. Difficulties approach each and every one of us at different times, in different ways. And it’s all hard. Why? Because “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Call me charismatic, bible thumping, call me whatever-the-heck you want, but I firmly believe that satan is alive and well on this earth, and he does everything he can to undermine the work of the Lord in our lives. And as the Lord works in each of our lives differently, satan attacks us in different areas. This is why, within those same verses, we are instructed to “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” (Ephesians 6:13-18, emphasis mine)
Take a look at those highlighted words: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Spirit, and the word of God. This is what we hold on to, what we firmly grasp when trials and tribulations come our way. It’s hard, when we’re in the midst of the storm. When satan does everything to make us miserable and shake our foundation of faith. When you feel like you matter what you do, no matter how much you pray, you just can’t find peace. See up there where it says “praying always?” This is where the peace comes in. Psalm 34:14-15 tells us “….seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.” His ears are open to your cry! He hears you, my friend. Cry out to Him. Continually. When you feel like you need more peace, pray some more. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Want another one? “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall keep you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and even forevermore.” (Psalm 121:1-8) And here’s one of my favorites – “And the God of peace will crush satan under your feet shortly.” (Romans 16:20)
I know I may be a bit heavy on the bible verses, but in my opinion, you can never be too heavy on God’s Word. And here’s the thing – I’ve had a rough couple of days. Really. Rough. I spent a good portion of yesterday afternoon looking up and writing out every single verse I could find on the peace of God. Which is why, my friends, this blog post is full of them. It is what I am clinging to, myself. My prayers are continually for peace and comfort. James 4:7-8 tells me “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (emphasis mine) That is truth, my friends. That is a promise. And God’s promises are true and everlasting. Great is His faithfulness. His compassion, fails not.
I’ve spent the last 4-5 days wondering if I’m losing my mind. Feeling absolutely physically miserable. You know, those days when you just pray for it to be bedtime so you don’t have to think about anything, but just sleep and pray that it will all be better in the morning? Yup, that’s where I’ve been. Just keeping it real. Being honest. I have long struggled with my health. For most of my life, really. It’s had its ups and downs. Right now, it’s in a “down.” Why is it a battle for me? Why does it reoccur? Why can’t I have “normal” health, like “everyone” else? Well, as I said in the beginning, as the Lord works in each of our lives differently, satan attacks us in different areas. I don’t have to understand. I have to trust, and give glory to God. I’m learning to be thankful in these circumstances, because it draws me nearer to God. And what happens when I draw nearer to God? I resist the devil in Jesus’ name. I draw near to God, and He draws near to me. He doesn’t move. He doesn’t slumber. He shall not be shaken. I heard a quote the other day that said something along the lines of “when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, just remember that you’re standing on the Rock of Ages.” On the Rock of Ages, I shall stand. “The JOY of the Lord is my strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) <– the word “strength” there means “place of safety, a refuge, or protection.” So in His strength I will rest, and find joy.
And here’s another thing: I have long suffered with a strong sense of guilt. Guilt that I’m not doing enough. Guilt that I’m being lazy. Guilt that my kids sometimes have to pick up my slack. Guilt that they’re growing up with a mom that’s sick fairly often. Guilt that my husband has too much weighing on his shoulders. I could go on and on. But guess what? “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) I am His, He calls me His own. He doesn’t condemn me, He loves me. This is not to say that I never have to take responsibility for my own actions, but to say that God loves me where I am. He is patient with me, and He is perfecting me, in His time. When I come before Him with a broken and contrite heart, He delights in me. (Ps.51:17) I can ask Him to convict me and show me where I need to change, but He never shames or condemns me. Nor does He you.
So here’s the thing…be encouraged, my friends. If you’re in the midst of a battle, you are not alone. Cry out to Jesus. Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you. Surround yourself in prayer (which includes being brave enough to ask others to pray for you.) Stop holding on and just let go. Lay it at the foot of the cross and be held. (Casting Crowns has a new song called “Just Be Held.” I encourage you to listen to it.) Praying you find strength and encouragement, and ask that you would do the same for me.
Until next time….