"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." I Peter 5:8
Late winter is a time when so many people I know are tempted to be discouraged, and feel like giving up--on something! I think that it is true that what goes up, must come down. Adrenaline is up, energy and ideals are up in early December, and then in January when it is cold, bills from Christmas come in, the celebrations are over, so often, people feel the weight of an emotional and spiritual low. One of my best friends told me yesterday that she can't read sweet stories about other children who are doing well, because it makes her so sad for her own who are struggling now. I understand so well.
Some years ago, after having a great time with our children over the holidays, Satan came out unexpectedly and whapped us with full force. It was out of the blue and it caused some havoc and lots of deep, abiding sadness in our family. I should have been ready for this blow because, every year as went into the conference season to encourage women to stay true to their commitments, to hold fast their faith, to work hard to keep going, a strike was sure to come.
This attack caused one of the saddest days I have known in many years. It was a strike against one of my children, which especially breaks my heart. Yet, we must remember 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!
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.
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 very dark corridor of dealing with the stress and the issues, the sadness and broken heart of our child and us, and then by obedience went to the pathways of faith, not by feelings, but by depending on His truth. We praised Him for His promised power in the midst of our devastation 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, confident that He would be our defender and our Father and care for all the details. But we did have to first go to this place of meeting with Him and giving the situation to Him.
I have learned to ask myself questions in the midst of my own dark times, and also 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 in-laws?
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 is 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 the 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!