Ever feel like as a Christian you are letting God down? When your thoughts are consumed with the burdens you bear. You make a valiant effort to spend time with God in prayer and His word. Yet, the weight of the burdens persist. Somedays you are able to believe God. Somedays, not so much. Especially as the burdens bear down upon you and new ones are added. You don’t doubt God as much as you doubt yourself. For you know God’s word is true and powerful. It’s just that the power to tap into those truths keeps evading you.
It’s in times like these that we must recognize the fiery darts of the enemy. Here’s what happens when our thoughts are consumed with our problems. The more we focus on our problems, the more pity we feel towards ourselves. Negative focus=fiery darts. Hope begins to drain. No solutions come forth from such a focus.
But there IS a solution.
It’s not so hard. But it takes deliberate effort. The temptation to dwell on our problems is strong. It’s our default reaction. However, as Christians the power of the Holy Spirit is stronger. When you are strong in God’s word and prayer, then Satan must use another tactic. When he won’t succeed at causing us to doubt God, he will cause us to doubt ourselves. It’s nothing but a ploy of the enemy. Here’s how we counter his attack:
Make a list of all the reasons you have to praise God. Especially, concerning your problems. Yes, even in the midst of your problems, there are reasons to praise God.
Next time you find yourself drowning in the negativity of your problems, pull out your lists. Allow praise thoughts to saturate your thinking. In all likelihood your problems will remain. But your perspective toward them will have changed. Now they will not overwhelm you.
Some benefits of praise?
Praising God (even in the midst of your problems) empowers you to rise above those problems. Because you are focusing on God not on yourself.
Praise shapes your perspective. Preventing the enemy from draining hope from your thoughts.
Praise provides you with the means to escape the darkness when in moments of weakness, you revert to your default of centering your focus on your problems. (We are human, after all)
Praise builds your confidence in God and His Word. (A sure way to stand against the enemy.)
For the past year my son, daughter in law, and two small grandsons have been on stateside assignment. For 9 of those months they lived in Scotland while my son worked on his masters. Not living in a 3rd world country, we have enjoyed the luxury of easy access to them via internet.
At present they are living with us as they prepare to return to Africa. And once again I’m faced with the painful thought that they will be leaving soon. But something unexpected happened while they were home that complicated the emotional strain of sending them off.
My husband and I have four children and two of them live near us. We take a great deal of comfort in knowing two of our daughters are close by. That was until recently! In April we were hit with the news that one of those daughters would likely be moving an 11 hours’ drive away to San Antonio, Texas. (And they did just that on August 18th)
Therefore, this summer has been one of extreme high’s and extreme lows. There was a constant flow of children and grandchildren in our house all summer. Three of those weeks were especially momentous: Nammy Camp for the 6 granddaughters, a family vacation in East Tennessee for all 20 of us, and Nammy Camp for the 4 grandsons. The month of August our son and his family has been spent here with my husband and I. My life was filled to overflowing with memory after wonderful memory of times spent together.
The quote from A Tale of Two Cities (post title), describes my emotional state over this past summer quite succinctly. And predictably with every low moment I was hit with a barrage of fiery darts.
It would have been my undoing had it not been for God’s instruction which had prepared me to not only identify fiery dart thinking but how to extinguish such thoughts as well. While the pain persists, I’m learning by His tender mercies, how to manage it. My life moves forward as God tenderly and lovingly leads me.
One of the most helpful Truth Thoughts I have found is Psalm 34:17:
How does God deliver me from my present troubles and rescue my crushed spirit?
If I cooperate with God, He will give me the desire that pleases Him (Philip. 2:13) He will remind me that He will fill the void when my children move away. (Philip. 4:19).
His presence will restore my crushed spirit. Every time I began to focus on my loss, He reminds me to direct my focus towards His presence and the love He has for me. (Psalm 16:11)
He reminds me that He will work all this out for my good (Rom 8:28).
Okay, so I have a choice!
I can pick up my shield of faith and face down the enemy with these Truth Thoughts!
Or I can continue to focus on my losses and grow more miserable with every day!
My heart is breaking as I hear of young couples, so dear to me and at one time so close to God, giving up on their marriage. I can understand and even relate to the temptation to bail out of a marriage that is slowly becoming depleted of the happiness and contentment with which it began. But succumbing to this temptation only sets in play Satan’s plan to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10a) the very happiness and contentment they are seeking.
We live in a world that defines happiness from a self-centered perspective. But according to God’s definition, genuine happiness is found by delighting ourselves in Him. (Psalm 37:4) When we reject this Truth, Satan stands ready to fire at us a volley of fiery darts designed to convince us that the only solution to unhappiness or discontentment in our marriage is to bail out of it. Then slowly we become blind and deaf to God’s plan that He has come to give us life in abundance (John 10:10b) even in our marriage.
When we become more focused on what we desire than on what God desires,then happiness and contentment in our marriages (and life) will always elude us. Satan’s fiery darts make sure of that. My prayer is that their sight will be restored and their enemy will be exposed. And in every situation they will take up their shield of faith in God’s Word and extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)
Then the Truth below will become their new reality!
If our marriage is built upon the foundation of God’s design, we will understand that there will be times when we will be unhappy in our marriage and/or with our spouse. This is a reality that will be dealt with in a godly manner so that it does not become an excuse to bail out but an instrument of God’s will in conforming us into His image. This is what centering your marriage on Christ means……“Frustration, hardship, loss is rooted in the gospel. In that context (centering your marriage on Christ) your faith may be shaken but your marriage will remain rooted.” (words in quote from a dear friend who is a mighty teacher of God’s Truth)
You see, the type of suffering or problems that we encounter in our marriages will often reflect something that is lacking therein. It stands to reason then, that if we cooperate with the sanctification process in order to provide what is lacking in the marriage, then we aren’t likely to see breaking up the marriage as the solution.
James 1:2-4 makes this quite clear:“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)
Excerpt taken from p. 71-72, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice