Discouragement is our enemy’s greatest weapon

Pretend you’re a bad guy in a novel or a stage play. What’s the best way you can think of to stop the hero from accomplishing his task? Tie his girlfriend to a set of railroad tracks? Kidnap his daughter and sell her to a human trafficking ring? Manufacture ten thousand nasty, disgusting orcs and send them marching on your ill-prepared fortress?

Every story out there has bad guys in it who do everything in their power to stop the good guys from winning. But every tactic they take usually has one unifying purpose–to discourage them. The intent is to throw so many obstacles in their path–physical, emotional, relational–that it’s not worth it for them to continue.

But the irony of that tactic is that heroes overcome obstacles. That’s what makes them heroes.

Today’s verses are Psalm 19:7-11.964357_95421930_attached2

The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
lasting forever.
The laws of the Lord are true;
each one is fair.
They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even honey dripping from the comb.
They are a warning to your servant,
a great reward for those who obey them.

Christ-followers have an enemy. You knew that, right? And it’s not the non-Christ-followers. It’s not other religions. It’s not any person you can see face to face. No, our enemy is far more deceptive than that, though he’d love us to attack the people around us.

Our enemy is a fallen angel, Satan, who hates God and hates everything God loves. And that includes us. But his tactics are the same as any other enemy in any other story–distraction and discouragement. If he can get us off topic, if he can get us off track, he will, and he’ll use any weapon in his arsenal to accomplish that.

For me, it’s my emotions. If Satan can twist my emotions and discourage me, I’m much more likely to get off track. I lose focus. I lose direction. I lose purpose.

He tells me nobody likes what I write, and I feel discouraged. So I stop writing. He tells me I’ll never be able to get healthy, and I feel discouraged. So I stop living a healthy lifestyle. He tells me that I’m not good enough to have friends, and I feel discouraged. So I stop reaching out to people.

Giving in to discouragement is so easy. It doesn’t take effort or intention or planning or anything. You just give up.

And that’s exactly what he wants. Why? Because God has a plan for you. God has a plan for your life, and God can use you to do amazing and tremendous and miraculous things that will help other people find Jesus. And that’s the last thing Satan wants.

So instead of trusting what you feel, start trusting what you know. I know my emotions deceive me. Satan can use my emotions against me, so I can’t trust them. Instead, I need to trust God’s Word. I need to hold on to what God has said is true, not only about my life but about me as a person.

God’s instructions are perfect and revitalizing. His Word makes people wise. His directions bring people joy. He’s never vague, and He never fails to reward people who follow Him. That’s fact. That’s truth. And if you ever doubt it, that’s not Him speaking.

So what do you do when you’re fighting discouragement? How do you handle it when the enemy is throwing obstacle after obstacle in your path?

Just stop.

Stop right where you are.

And rejoice.

Look at that obstacle and see it for what is–a sign that your enemy doesn’t want you to succeed but that your God is bigger than he is. And if that isn’t reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

When the enemy tells you you’re worthless, you remind him that God gave the most precious blood in all the universe to pay for your life. When the enemy tells you you’re talentless, you remind him that God made you to do something awesome. When the enemy tells you you’re unlovable, remind him what God sacrificed for your soul. When the enemy tells you you’re hopeless, remind him Who you belong to.

Don’t trust what you feel. Trust what God has told you. God’s Words are the best weapon you have to fight the discouragement our enemy throws at you. So use them. Remember what God has done for you. Mark it down, and the next time Satan comes after you, shove it in his face in Jesus’ name.

And sing. Or dance. Or spin in circles and jump up and down. Whatever.

Just celebrate. Because if you’ve got obstacles, that means you’re human. If you overcome them, that makes you a hero.

Advertisements
Sun almost set - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Never give up.

I avoid hatred. I don’t think hate solves anything. Ever. It’s one of those emotions that can move you to do terrible things, and if you get into a lifestyle of hatred, you will become a miserable person. And even Scripture tells us that we’re never supposed to hate another person. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done to us or how they’ve treated us or how they’ve treated someone you love, hate never improves the situation. It just makes you miserable.

But what about our enemy? Our real enemy. Not Osama bin Laden or any of the men and women who have done such evil things to each other. Not people. Because people are never our enemies. Satan is. And he hates us so very much. Is it okay to hate him?

And the moment I start talking about Satan many people may start rolling their eyes because we don’t like to think about him as a real person who’s truly after us. But he is. And he’s not some costumed clown in a red suit and pitchfork as our culture would like to believe. He’s not a man in a suit. He’s not a terrifying monster. He’s brilliant and he’s beautiful and he’s alluring, and he knows us better than we know ourselves.

And he tears people apart. And he takes things that are good and corrupts them. And he gets in between people who are making a difference and tempts them to hurt each other, and before you know it, they can’t even talk to each other anymore. He fills our heads with lies, and because we are broken people we listen. And the only consolation is that God is big enough to take the situations that Satan had destroyed and can still do something great with them.

Paul and Barnabas are a good example. They disagreed about a young man named John Mark. You can read it in Acts 14:36-40. But they fought about it so much that they split up because they couldn’t work together anymore. Did their ministries end? No. God still used them. And maybe some would say that it was God’s will for them to go their separate ways. But I don’t think it’s ever God’s will for us to be in conflict with another believer. Not like that. Not the kind of conflict that splits you apart and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

God still used Paul and Barnabas separately. They still did remarkable things around the world. But as far as we know, they never reconciled. Now they’re together in heaven. I wonder how that went when they spoke to each other again for the first time in so long.

Sun almost set - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sun almost set – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Micah 7:7-8.

As for me, I look to the Lord for help.
    I wait confidently for God to save me,
    and my God will certainly hear me.
Do not gloat over me, my enemies!
    For though I fall, I will rise again.
Though I sit in darkness,
    the Lord will be my light.

Satan is going to throw everything he has at us. I don’t think any of us really understand how much he hates us. What we have to do is to realize what is happening.

Satan hates us and wants us to fall. He wants us to go to pieces. He wants us to focus the sum of our disappointment and our fears and our loneliness on each other. If he can’t separate us from God (and he can’t, by the way), he will manipulate us and use us to hurt each other, to drive each other away. And we’re so good at rationalizing that we are always in danger of listening to his temptation and supporting it with our own reasoning … so it makes sense to us. And we think we’re doing something good, but we’re really just playing into his hands.

But if whatever path you’re choosing to act on contradicts Scripture in any way, don’t do it.

So what if you’re in the position of watching people give in to Satan’s taunts and threats?

Pray.

And if you know them well enough, confront.

And if that doesn’t change anything … let them go. God will take care of it.

Quite “by accident” this morning, when I logged into Biblegateway.com to get the verse, it was set on The Message as the translation. I use the Message sometimes because I like to get the feel of a whole passage. This is the whole context of the verses for today:

But me, I’m not giving up.
   I’m sticking around to see what God will do.
I’m waiting for God to make things right.
   I’m counting on God to listen to me.
Don’t, enemy, crow over me.
   I’m down, but I’m not out.
I’m sitting in the dark right now,
   but God is my light.
I can take God’s punishing rage.
   I deserve it—I sinned.
But it’s not forever. He’s on my side
   and is going to get me out of this.
He’ll turn on the lights and show me his ways.
   I’ll see the whole picture and how right he is.
And my enemy will see it, too,
   and be discredited—yes, disgraced!
This enemy who kept taunting,
   “So where is this God of yours?”
I’m going to see it with these, my own eyes—
   my enemy disgraced, trash in the gutter.

We have an enemy, and he hates us. And he’s going to do everything he can to break us down and tear us apart, and there are going to be days when he succeeds. But God is bigger. And God is stronger. And God is going to make everything right again. And Satan is going to see that. Actually, Satan already knows that.

It’s up to us not to give up. It’s up to us to keep doing the right thing. To keep living lives that please God, living according to the Scripture, living according to the Spirit. And God will work everything out.