How is your life going? Is it all rainbows and lollipops or do you sometimes feel as if you are in a war, fighting a battle you don’t remember being invited to? You are busy from before daylight until way past sundown, struggling to hack out a living, keep food on the table, fuel in the car, and clothes on your body.
Several weeks ago, our pastor informed our small Bible study group that we would be entering a sermon series on spiritual warfare and to get ready—he was convinced Satan and his minions would amp up their attacks as we delved into the study. We all agreed with him, knowing full well Satan was not going to like this study at all.
I attempted to prepare my heart beforehand, praying for strength to stand up against whatever Satan tried and seeking discernment and awareness of when Satan was interfering and where Satan was working. I prayed this not only for myself but for my pastor and the entire congregation. I’ll admit to being apprehensive wondering just what direction these attacks would be coming from. After all, it is much easier to plan your defense if you know what is coming, right?
Satan is subtle--he uses doubt and discouragement to thwart God's kingdom. Click To Tweet
My expectation was that it would be something big—a major crisis. However, as the weeks wore on, I came to realize that Satan knows us well. A major crisis brings our church closer together. We are “rally-ers”—you knock one of us down and the others rally around (come together) to lift them back up. We have had some serious events, major illnesses, severe accidents, and even loss of life, but these were things that brought us closer to each other, not break us apart.
Satan decided to use a subtler approach. Colds and flu ran rampant throughout our little church. Have you ever noticed when you’re not feeling your best, every minor thing seems of major significance? Sunday school teachers were out sick a couple of Sundays, our children’s coordinator was out another Sunday, and one Wednesday night we were on our third string teacher for our youth. We were calling in backups for our backups!
Not only did I notice morale at our church being affected, I noticed it throughout the blogging world as well. I belong to several Christian blogging groups and numerous bloggers (myself included) were feeling Satan’s attacks as well. Several were sick or had sick family members, and were having difficulty meeting deadlines. Many were doubting the purpose of their blogging ministries. Everyone wants to be doing what God called them to do and making a difference for Him, so Satan’s favorite thing was to put doubt about how or if we were serving God’s Kingdom.
As I looked around, I realized that Satan was using discouragement and doubt to thwart God’s kingdom. When we are feeling weak and ill, it is hard to force ourselves to be motivated and forward thinking. Doubts start creeping in. Is this what I’m supposed to be doing? What makes me think God can use me when he has all these other more qualified people around? Why teach a class with one or two people in it when eight people are out sick? Why go to church at all when all we are doing is passing sickness around to each other? And the list goes on.
There are a couple of things we can do when we realize Satan is throwing discouragement and doubt our way. First, there are times when we are not going to feel our best. Learn to take advantage of these opportunities and rest—rest your mind and your body. Many times, illness lingers on because we never stop long enough to really get well. Second, prepare a battle plan–Satan has the uncanny ability to take advantage of our weakest moments. We must protect ourselves during these times.
Below are some steps we can implement to remain strong when doubt and discouragement enter the picture:
- Rest and recover. Many times, we are weakest because we are exhausted. We are worn out from keeping up the frenetic pace of the world. Take a break and find your rest in Him.
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:31 (NLT)
- Re-evaluate. While you’re resting, take the opportunity to re-evaluate what you are doing. What is God leading you to do? Have you veered off-course letting other things steal your enthusiasm and purpose?
20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)
- Once you have re-evaluated and reminded yourself what it is God has called you to do, you may need to reorganize your schedule. Are you wasting time on things you could easily let go of or turn over to someone else? Seek God’s help in determining what he deems important vs. what you think is important. Let unimportant things go.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
- Refocus and refresh. Once you have determined what God is leading you to do, work towards that goal. If it has an end, accomplish it. If it is ongoing, just continue working on it until He tells you to do otherwise.
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)
- We are not alone, God is with us. He will give us the strength we need. When we are weak and discouraged, we will cling to Him.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? Romans 8:35 (NLT)
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)
Just remember Satan does not want you accomplishing anything for God’s glory. That is why a battle plan is so important. Try these steps the next time you feel discouraged and see if you can keep those feelings at bay.