January is a time when so many people I know are tempted to be discouraged, and feel like giving up--on something! Seems I read an article a few years ago that said January was the time for more people to go on depression medicine. I think that it is true that what goes up, must come down! Adrenalin is up, energy and ideals are up in early December, and then in January, it is cold, bills from Christmas come in, the celebrations are over, and so often, people feel the weight of adrenalin, emotional, spiritual low. One of my best friends told me yesterday that she can't read sweet stories about other children because it makes her so sad for her own who are struggling now. I understand so well.
After having a great time with our children over the holidays, Satan came out unexpectedly and whapped us with full force on Tuesday. It was out of the blue and it caused some havoc and lots of deep sadness in our family--threw us off our feet. (personal stuff that I do not share to protect the innocent!) I should have been ready for this blow because, every year as we go into the conference season to encourage women to stay true to their commitments, to hold fast their faith, to work hard to keep going--every year, we are sorely tempted and attacked in most interesting ways.
This attack went right to my heart. It got me right where it hurts and caused me on of the saddest days I have known in many years. It was an attack on one of my children, and that breaks my heart. But during the conference season, we always have intense difficulties and challenges in our lives. Things like my mom breaking her hip one year the day before our big conference began, a ruptured disc for Clay, a person in charge of organizing conferences that year having a parent come down with cancer from which he soon died, weird little problems with cars, a child breaking her ankle the day before the conference, computers, people, illnesses, and harsh attacks from other believers.
Yet, there is an enemy who hates for us to keep faithful to our ideals for our families and for the Lord. Satan, Peter tells us, is our adversary. He prowls through the earth--like he did when he asked God if he could seek to destroy Job. Like he did when Jesus said to Peter, "Satan desires to sift you like wheat." Peter, who was so personally experienced at this, because of Satan tempting him to deny Christ at the crucifixion, warns us to be on the alert. He is seeking, Peter tells us, to devour us!
But, we are, after all, in a battle, that rages in this world--a battle for the hearts and souls giving allegiance to the one true God, to believe in His goodness, to give the gift of our faith in the darkness--to choose to believe and praise and worship and live for His reality yet to be revealed.
We are getting slowly used to stepping beyond our difficulties and seeing who is really at war with us. Clay and I had a talk in the wee hours of the night, and began to praise our wonderful Lord. We had to go through the dark corridor of dealing with the stress, the issues, and then by obedience went to the pathways of faith, not by feelings, but by depending on His truth. We praised Him for His power and the ability to use all things in our lives to make us more into the image of Christ. We asked for His strength and for His grace and power. We walked, by faith, into our next day, confidently that He would be our defender and our Father and care for all the details. But we did have to go to this place of meeting with Him and giving it to Him.
I have learned to ask myself questions in the midst of my own dark times. I have learned to ask these questions of other women. Who would like for you to remain bitter? Discouraged?
Who would like for you to give up on your ideals--to say, "I can't do this anymore." ?
Who wants you to be angry at your spouse? To be resentful of your children? Your family? Your inlaws?
Who wants you to worry and fret and stew and hold on to pet fears?
Who is trying to separate you from your friends?
Who is tempting you to think that God does not hear prayer, that He doesn't really care about you? To doubt God's goodness?
I think that it is at this very moment--when the darkness comes in--that faith if of most value and pleases God the most and absolutely frustrates Satan. Satan doesn't think we will believe and be strong. God is already waiting to lead and provide and help. But we have this honorable moment, when we can say, "I love you. I believe you. I will choose to trust you."
David reminds us in the Psalm 139: 7,
"Where can I go from thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, (hell) behold you are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn and dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there your hand will lead me and your right hand will take hold of me.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to you and the night is as bright as teh day. Darkness and light are alike to you."
And so, we who are the children of the light, can be comforted by Him, who sees all, is over all, is with us through it all, and He will use it for our good and for His glory. May He give you encouragement today!
And I have to say, it makes me so excited to have the great opportunity to speak at the mom's conferences! He is on our side. I can't wait to encourage all of you who will be able to come. There is still lots of time to register as the hotels are extending their dates. Will you please help me to get the word out? I will post the winners for December in just a little bit. Thanks for all of your help and prayers--all of us at Whole Heart are so very grateful for you and for your letters, help, prayers--they keep me going forward and writing and speaking. I could not do it without you and your support. You will never know how much you are angels in my life!