We all need encouragement, some days more than others. There is an enemy of our soul, watching and waiting for loneliness, fatigue, fear, worry, anything that distracts us from the path we're walking with Christ, the journey that God has set before us. God has made me aware lately, as if watching from a distance, the spiritual battle going on around us. We begin to feel alone, then tiredness sets in, and then when fear over any small (or big)circumstance enters our mind, we start to worry. When we worry we can't trust. Then the enemy has us where he wants us.
We become disoriented from the direction we were headed. It happens to all of us, at one time or another. I guess I wanted to write about this today because about a week or so ago, God began to show me new things. I was given a glimpse into a new realm of awareness of God working. And then this week, I am aware of fighting an invisible enemy. It's a pattern I can see scattered throughout my Christian life. Can you see it in yours as well?
It really began when I chose trust over worry. Sometimes I think that by worrying, I'm protecting my family, simply being cautious. But sometimes, God asks us to trust Him, to allow Him to give us a gift. Sometimes He wants to answer a prayer we have never prayed with words. He wants to answer the yearnings of our hearts that we don't even know how to express.
Two things happened actually, simultaneously. My son was given the opportunity to attend a father/son retreat on being a man of integrity. It was for his age group of boys getting ready to enter 7'th grade. Three men in our church volunteered to go as a"foster dads" so that the sons of single moms could also take part. I believe it will be a blessing for years to come in my son's life. The look in his eyes with the anticipation of going and the look in his eyes when he got home, I'll never forget. It was as if he knew this was a gift he was being given, something of great importance.
At the same time, there was a woman speaking Saturday morning to the women at my church. Her talk was called "Ministering to the Wounded Heart"*. While I was driving to hear her speak that morning, my heart felt as if I was "running" to Jesus. I knew I would meet Him there and hear Him in her words somehow. Her words helped me to understand myself and my past. God also gave me a new vision for my future. A joyful vision of ministering to other wounded hearts.
She shared how her plan was to minister to others through her strength. God's plan was for her to minister through her weakness*. God is so good. His grace is always right there, right where you are. He can turn our suffering into a treasure to be used by Him*. I guess that's what I mean in my heading, about God turning the greatest struggles in our lives into blessings. For me, I have found that when I struggle, then I draw closer to God. The closer I am to God, the more peace, hope and joy I am given, deep in my spirit, regardless of circumstances. Without suffering, without struggle, where would I be?
I pray that these verses are an encouragement and strength to you as you persevere and fight the battle.
Psalm 37: 39-40
The spacious, free life is from God, it's also protected and safe. God-strengthened, we're delivered from evil— when we run to him, he saves us.
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.
Romans 12: 9-10
Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Ephesians 6: 10-18
God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
13-18 Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
* Alisa A. Hale