There are seasons in our lives when in spite of what we read in the Bible, we feel abandoned by God. (and if we aren’t reading our Bible then we, for sure, feel abandoned and even hopeless) We walk around in a cloud where hope is vague and happiness is something we grow more unfamiliar with by the day.
So what should we do? How do we survive such desolate days?
We all have a singular enemy! He is called Satan! He has plans to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10). He influences false assumptions, prideful thinking, and deceptive human reasoning. (2 Cor 10:3-5)
Then how is it that we are so easily devoured by Satan’s plans?
I’ve been told that the lion stalks those who are distracted and weak. Therefore, Satan is on a constant vigil to detect the weak among us. Those who rarely feed on God’s word, are most vulnerable to his manipulation and deception. Those who have become more familiar with the lies of the world than the principles declared in the Bible are easily led astray and distracted.
Without a healthy understanding of how much we are loved by God, of His good plans for us, of how His plan is for all things to work together for our good, we can easily be consumed by the burdens of life. Therefore, Satan’s foremost attack is to make us ignorant of such understanding. By doing so, he can easily convince us that God has forgotten and abandoned us. He feeds our thoughts with negativity and lies. Our hope soon gives way to hopelessness and despair.
How do we counter Satan’s attack?
Satan attacks us first in our thoughts. A weapon referred to as fiery darts. If we don’t know how to recognize those fiery darts, then we are doomed to falling prey to their poison. How we feel will be filtered by the fiery darts we have allowed to take root in our thinking. Consider the following excerpt from my book, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice:
First we entertain a thought. That thought will cause certain related feelings. Thus, our behavior is influenced by our thoughts and feelings. Psychologists say that if behavior is to be changed, then the flow must be interrupted, either at the initial thought or at the feeling point. p. 28 3rd ed FD’s
Satan must be defeated at the first thought level. When we accomplish this, then the darkness will diminish. We won’t succumb to the deception of the enemy. We may have to deal with unhappiness but our joy remains. And instead of becoming overwhelmed we will discover that
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-16 NLT
There are times when our thoughts seem to become more anxious by the moment.
Recently, anxious thoughts took center stage in my mind. They indeed appeared to multiply. The fiery darts of worry and fear joined forces with doubt and confusion. The problem loomed large. My ability to handle it grew smaller. I was close to feeling overwhelmed. I needed peace of mind.
Then God gave me a Truth thought that settled me down.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
As I meditated on this verse, I gained a new perspective on my problem.
God had gone on before me. You know out there where that problem was.
When I get to the point where I have to face the problem, I am not going to be by myself. God assures me He will be with me the whole way!
Fear and discouragement get left behind!
Now that’s what I call Consolation!
I asked God for a physical sign that He would protect me and not allow me to be taken advantage of. Normally, I don’t ask God for a sign. But this time, I felt it was necessary, considering my weakness. He gave me that sign!
So every time, the fiery darts of doubt, fear, discouragement, etc., attack, there’s my sign reminding me of God’s promises from Deuteronomy. That’s when the verse from Philippines 4:6-7 comes into play.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. NIV
Did you notice God’s peace (which I am sorely in need of) will guard my heart and mind, surpassing all those multiplying anxious thoughts!
Now, I must focus on these verses whenever I’m tempted with anxious thoughts. If I take this approach, I will face the future, where my problem looms, with confidence in God. He has gone on before me, remember!
I was sharing with a friend not long ago, about the heaviness of spirit that seemed to plague most of my waking hours. It was a struggle for me to make sense of what was feeling like depression.
In Depression – My Story, Nov 17, 2017, I define depression and how I had been instructed to defeat it. I learned depression (a type of bondage) could not take root as long as I planted my thoughts securely in God’s Word.
Yet, here I was again, feeling defeated and discouraged. In spite of the fact that I knew how to fight the negative thoughts and was aware of the resources from God’s Word to extinguish them.
My friend listened to me, then offered this insight. What I thought was depression, was more likely oppression. Satan was exercising his power to plant thoughts (fiery darts) that would weigh heavy on my mind. Thoughts that would produce emotions of discouragement and defeat.
The fact that I did not get caught up in a downward spiral was a clear indication for me that this was oppression, not depression. With depression, I was inclined to believe the negative thinking and the downward spiral was set in motion.
But with oppression, I did not believe the fiery darts to be true. I kept fighting back with God’s Truth thoughts. Though I became emotionally drained by the struggle, God’s Word kept me afloat. My focus during those days was the following:
1 John 4:4, Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Once the confusion was eliminated, I could see clearly what I was fighting against. I knew who was behind the oppression and I knew how to counter attack. I discovered anew, that the power of God’s Word always prevails in setting free the oppressed. (based on Luke 4:18)
The Las Vegas tragedy leaves us feeling that evil has the upper hand. The enemy of all of mankind, Satan, would have us drowning in despair. He would have us questioning God as to how something so horrible could happen. He would have us becoming angry with God. His aim is to manipulate our thoughts so that we can’t find anything to feel hopeful about.
There’s a verse in the Bible, John 16:33, that tells us that in this world we will have tribulation. Well, we certainly know that’s true. Las Vegas only confirms it. We know from personal experience as a nation and as individuals that trials and troubles are a common thing in this fallen world we live in, Yet, our initial reaction when tragedy strikes is to cry out, “Why God? How could you let this happen?”
In times such as these, we must remember :
God has warned us and tried to prepare us for the consequences of sin. After we messed up His original plan, He didn’t give up on us. He made a way where we could know peace in the midst of turmoil and tragedy. Because He knew that our rejection of Him would bring inevitable and sometimes tragic consequences.
But take heart:
Jesus not only has overcome the world but He will return and straighten out the mess Satan has made of it. But until then we must not allow the fiery darts of hopelessness, anger, or despair blind us.
May we light the candle of faith. Only then will we see good triumphing over evil in Las Vegas. It’s an unspeakable horror, yes! But we can’t let that rule our thinking. Instead we must focus on the truths of God that pour forth in abundance from the beautiful stories rising out of the ashes of Las Vegas.
One by one, prayer by prayer, people are seeking God for His strength in overcoming this evil. They are reaching out to each other to assist, protect, or bring healing, With every act of bravery, self-sacrifice, love, compassion, etc. the enemy is being defeated.