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
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 choice is obvious!
If you’ve noticed you haven’t heard from me in awhile, you would be correct. It seems I am, and have been for quite some time, in a valley. A valley that just stretches out before me with no exits or mountain tops in sight.
Being the author of a book about negative thinking, I have a working knowledge of how to fight the negative thoughts (my constant companions in this valley). Therefore, I know that God’s Truth thoughts are the key to finding my way out. And for brief periods of time, those Truth thoughts lit up a possible exit. But alas, it was only short lived.
At this point, I still find myself in the valley. And I don’t have much hope of leaving this place any time soon. So, what should I do?
May I insert here that while I am living in the valley at the moment, it is NOT a dark valley. God’s Truth thoughts which I focus on prevent such darkness. It is not a valley without hope of finding a way out. While the negative thoughts of despair, discouragement, and thoughts of giving up do tempt me, they do not rule my thinking. They do not prevail!
Also, I find that in this valley, I am tempted with thoughts of self-condemnation. This judgmental attitude towards myself and others (especially those I have complaints against) keep my vision clouded. And yes, I am weary of the fight against feeling sad, disheartened, and discouraged.
So what’s the answer here?
Giving into these fiery darts will only plant me permanently in this desolate valley. I DO NOT DESIRE THAT! Nor does God!
Here’s a thought! Why not just accept this valley time? I ask myself, “Why on earth would I do that?” To which I believe God gave me this reply:
Isaiah 48:17, This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy one of Israel says, I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit who leads you in the way you should go.
If I cooperate with the LORD, and instead of asking Him to lift me out of this valley (because really, it’s unpleasant and I don’t like being here), then my time in this valley will produce benefits for me.
So! I should quite spinning my wheels trying to escape this valley I’m stuck in! Instead, I should turn my energies towards cooperating with God in order to learn the lessons He has for me here. Keeping in mind that it is for my benefit.
To Which I reply!
“Okay, not the answer I was striving for! My flesh would much rather You would just lift me out of this valley. Make things easier, you know! But I recognize those fiery darts for what they are. There’s only one way out. That’s Your way, not my way!”
Does your life seem complicated at times? Do you feel like you just don’t have God’s full attention? You pray for guidance but it seems God remains silent. Does the peace you earnestly seek for continue to elude you? You fast, but the answers and the peace do not come. And while you are still waiting for answers, you get punched in the gut with more problems!
Yet, you have the sense to know that answers won’t come from any other source. Therefore, you know you must persevere. So you keep on asking the LORD. All the while wondering when the relief will come.
In the meantime, fiery darts are messing with your resolve to seek the LORD. They plant doubt and confusing thoughts into your mind. With these fiery dart thoughts, your seeking the LORD grows more complicated. For now you must sort through these dark thoughts to be able to hear from and be guided by God’s Truth thoughts.
What do you do in these valley times?
Might I suggest that you attack the fiery dart thoughts (those thoughts of negativity, hopelessness, discouragement, doubt, fear, impatience, etc) as soon as they enter your mind. Replace them with Truth thoughts such as Isaiah 54:17, Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 11:1, John 14:27, James 1:2-4, Philippians 2:13, Isaiah 43:4. Words from God to encourage you, give you hope, and to lift you up.
And we’ve all lived long enough to know that sometimes the answers won’t come quickly (which seems the rule not the exception). At times, we might find that we just have to wait for the answers that seem so long in coming. It is during such times that we must arm ourselves with verses that instruct us as we wait.
It is good for us to remember, that these dark times have a purpose. (Romans 8:28) God will use these times for our benefit and His glory. Therefore, focusing on the following word from God, will keep our heads above water. And though the answers still may not come for awhile, these words will give us the relief we need to keep on keeping on.
Isaiah 48:17, “This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.