I just went home for Easter. I had one of the best breaks that I’ve had in a long time, but I felt very busy. On Saturday morning, I had a few moments to pray before the rest of my family woke up. I thought a lot in that prayer time about how the apostles must have felt after the Lord was crucified and before He had risen. I’m sure they felt confused; maybe they felt as if they had been tricked; maybe they felt defeated. I could just imagine a totally dejected spirit over them in those two days before the Lord’s resurrection. They must have thought, “What is God doing?” or, “Is this really His plan?” I bet you Satan was really taking advantage of this time to wreak havoc on their hearts.
I feel like this has been much of my year as a missionary. I have experienced many things that make me think, “Really, Lord? Are you serious? What are you doing? I’m supposed to trust you?” I am not ashamed to admit this, because I think that this is often how many of us feel about our Christian walk, and it needs to be spoken about. It’s hard. It’s harder than we ever thought it would be. I have to confess that I was silly enough to think that life would be easier because I became a Christian, and definitely easier because I became a missionary. I’ve realized this year that this is the furthest thing from the truth. And I know that it is absolutely crucial to express and talk about the doubts/discouragements/hardships that I feel. Ephesians 5:11 says, “Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them.” I know that I must constantly bring to light the ways that Satan tries to get a hold of me. I know also that part of this year for me is that Satan has delighted in his opportunities to wreak havoc on my heart – to make me doubt, question, become weary, fearful, and anxious. He is a master at these things.
Scripture says that the devil is “prowling like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour.” -1 Peter 5:8. I have become more and more aware this year of the spiritual battle that I am living in, that we are all living in. The evil one is constantly trying to discourage us, to divide and conquer, to plant doubt and confusion in our hearts. I think I am more aware now of the necessity to “put on the armor of God” like St. Paul talks about in Ephesians 6.
For me, Satan’s lies in my heart sounds a little bit like this: “You can’t do this.” “You are not holy/good/extroverted/faithful/prayerful/bold/strong/humble/gifted enough for this.” “You can’t really believe that God is trustworthy after how difficult this year has been.” “You really think that God loves you, when you can easily see all of this suffering?” “God is not really going to come through for you.” “He has left you alone in your struggles.”
It’s hard. I think the hardest thing is to recognize these things as lies, to stop listening to them, to stop believing them in my heart, and to take on the truth that God offers me. I have been realizing how much I NEED scripture. There are many times when I feel that I can’t hear the voice of God, that He is silent, and all I can hear are the lies that Satan tries to plant in me. And so scripture is necessary for me to be reminded of these truths, so that these truths may be planted in me, rooted DEEPLY. God has given us His words written down for those moments when we can’t hear Him. He knows our weakness. And He has already given us tools to get us through moments or seasons of desolation.
So let us be reminded together of the truth. The truth is that when I think I am not good enough: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Corinthians 12:9. When I doubt that God will come through for me: “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.” -Romans 5:5. When I doubt God’s love for me, or feel abandoned by him: “Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” –Isaiah 54:10. And “ I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” –John 14:18. When I doubt that God will make me new: “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.” –Ezekiel 36:26. When I question what God is doing, and doubt His power and His promises: “Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord. I have promised and I will do it, says the Lord.” –Ezekiel 37:13-14
There is so much more. The bottom line is that “You belong to God, children . . . for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” -1 John 4:4. With God, the Holy Spirit, Scripture, with one another, we will not be defeated, but will be made stronger through all of these trials and difficulties. He has already given us the tools to defeat the enemy. We just have to use them.