Updated: Aug 28, 2021
“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. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously, to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind”.
It has been quite a while since I have shared what God has put on my heart. I guess this is what writers call a writer's block. Since I do not think of myself as a writer, I am not quite sure what you would call this down time.
During these past couple of months, Satan tried to rock my world with one of his fierce punches and it took me a bit to breathe easier again and get my thoughts together. All the while I was in this difficult place, Jesus was working in my life to bring me closer to him. As I reflect, I realize that most of the time He was holding me in His arms as only He does with His grace and compassion.
Looking back on this past year I think of the words to Matthew West’s song, "Take Heart." I woke up one morning and did not feel safe to step outside of my home. I was told not to hug my children and grandchildren and in fact I was told to stay away from everyone to keep safe. Life as I knew it was gone. Everything looked dark and I had no idea what was coming ahead. I remembering crying out to Jesus, how am I going to get through this time feeling so alone? In this song, Matthew reminded us of Jesus’s words in John 16:33: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” As I learned to live in peace with our Covid pandemic, little did I know what else was coming my way.
As I was answering the call that I believe Jesus has placed on my life, Satan decided it was time to unleash a brutal attack that I was not prepared for. You see, I did not have my spiritual armor on that Paul reminds us to do in Ephesians. After all, it was just me in my condo and I forgot to put it on each morning. Isn’t that just like Satan? He was just waiting like a thief in the night to steal my joy. I felt as if I would never recover. During this Jesus kept telling me over and over that I was loved with an everlasting love and He would never leave me or forsake me. I held onto this hope and promise as I walked through this dark attack, even with the doubts I was experiencing. I admit I was a bit of a Thomas. I kept thinking Why Now? My children were so supportive encouraging me to hang onto Jesus’s promises and love. You see what I was going through also affected them.
As I searched scripture for why this would happen at this time, I came across Genesis 50:20a, as Joseph spoke to his brothers, “You intended to harm me but God intended it for good which is now being done.” Satan meant this to stop me in my tracks, but God meant it for good. Then as I started to really study this passage, James 1:2-6 came to mind and it all began to make sense. God was developing perseverance in me and the process had to come to completion so that I would mature in my faith. And believe me, I was constantly asking God for wisdom. As promised in James, He answered me with generosity and love. As Jesus was ministering to me with His love and acceptance, He reminded me that I must always have His armor on to be prepared for these attacks. Ephesians 6:10-18 outlines exactly what this armor is and why we need it: "Finally, be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."
I would encourage a review of this scripture often. Just as soldier prepares for war, we must prepare for the evil one that will attack us with vengeance at just the opportune time.
As I look back, I don’t know why I was so surprised. I was expecting this attack at some point but tried to deny that it would really happen to me. Satan does not want us to be successful in sharing the love of our Savior. Imagine his fear in knowing that as we turn our hearts toward Jesus, the evil one will not be able to win in these attacks. What better way to use the attack to make us doubt our worth in the love of Jesus? All the messages of guilt and shame come with these attacks. We are not good enough; we can never be forgiven for what we have done in the past…. But I am here to tell you that Satan is a liar. In and by ourselves we are not good enough but this is not the end of the story. Our worth is in our Savior Jesus Christ and what He chose to do because of His great love for us. Take heart my friends. Our Savior chose to take our punishment on the cross, in our place, died and was raised again so that we could be forgiven of our sins. If we choose to put our faith in Jesus as our Savior, we are not only be forgiven but will spend eternity with him. No more guilt and shame, only the everlasting love of Jesus to save us, guide us, grow us, and mature us in our journey.
The world needs to hear how the Gospel changes hearts with an everlasting love. They need to hear how a relationship with Christ can give them an abundant life no matter what circumstances they are experiencing. They need to know they are not alone. They need to know that they can be forgiven. We must be prepared for the Satan punches that attack us as we share the love of Jesus.
Let us have the confidence that Jesus promises in John 16:33" “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” Jesus did this from the cross. Let us be full of gratefulness in the gift that our Savior has given us. Let us count our blessings with Pure Joy and Anticipation as God uses us to further the Gospel message by being the hands and feet of Jesus in our families and in our communities.
Love and Blessings to all.