I wrote as fast as I could, straining to say each word out loud as I wrote, straining desperately to connect any way I could.
“I am so mad at You God! I am so sorry, but I really just am! (Tears, then a long pause). Why did You let this happen? Why? (Tears, then a longer pause.) This is awful, just awful! No, no, no! I know this will turn out for good. You promise that in Romans 8:28. I know You are still in control of everything no matter what it feels like.
“Please help me, Lord! Oh, Father! How I need You, like the song says, how I need You now! I feel so torn up inside. I don’t know what to do. I just feel like giving up. I really do just want to give up. All this hurts too much. I can’t handle it if life is going to be this way. I just can’t!”
When the writing is hard. Although I regularly write about details of my life because I hope to help others grow closer to God, sometimes the feelings are too raw. Sometimes I am ashamed and embarrassed about how I felt and what I did or said. Like now. What caused the desperate prayer above? Whenever we decide to go forward with something for God, our accuser (Revelations 12:10) tries to hinder us (I Thessalonians 2:18, Matthew 13:3-19).
A few weeks ago, I began praying for God to help as I redoubled efforts to improve my health. I have a lot of writing I want to do for God before I go home to heaven, and that requires a healthy body and mind, which requires exercise and good health habits. The past nine months had included four hospitalizations for atrial fibrillation on top of long–standing debilitating fatigue and worsening feet, neck and hip problems. Exercise and health in general had suffered.
So, I renewed my determination to lose those fifteen pounds the cardiologist says would help the heart. I got back onto a stricter diet, added in more exercise and stretching, prioritized getting more rest, etc. etc. I felt good for two days. Then came the attacks. I strained a leg muscle, which meant I limped and could not exercise at all for a week and after that only with great caution. Then, although it had disappeared for decades, the itching and burning red skin of eczema reappeared, which required about fifty dollars of over-the-counter creams and lotions. Then, also after a long absence, came athlete’s foot which can make the soles of your feel like they are on fire at the same time they itch and which also required fifty or so dollars of creams, sprays and powders, not to mention the cost in time and effort and frustration. The achy feet, hips, neck and back quickly worsened with the near complete lack of exercise.
Then, my eyes began hurting as soon I began typing on the computer, and sitting at the desk for more than fifteen minutes meant aching hips, two more new negative things. Then on top of the panic that threatens all of us each time we pay a bill, buy anything or go to the grocery, the garbage disposal had to be replaced. All this in the midst of the genuine difficulties extreme summer heat imposes on us all.
Through all of that, by great outpourings of grace, I had kept a good attitude, telling myself, “Well, that’s one more thing to ignore and trust God to take care of because He loves me and He IS taking care of me.”
Then came the incident when the flaming arrows of our enemy attacked one of the most precious things in my life.
What were the reactions? I panicked. I fell apart inside. I felt fear, and I got furious, not just angry but furious. There seemed, and still seems, no way this precious, precious part of my life can ever be restored.
Then I prayed. “Oh, Lord! I know You tell us in Ephesians 4:26-27 in the AMPC that when we are angry we must not sin and we must not end the day being exasperated or furious or indignant because it gives the enemy a foothold in our life. Well, I feel all of that right now and more. So, I am trying to talk with You about this. As this awful day has gone on, Lord, I have started to feel as depressed as I did five years ago before You used Your Word to heal the depression. Everything in my life and everything about my life feels sad and pathetic again, my tiny home, my old used car, my overweight and aging and sagging body . . .”
Resisting at the onset. By grace, those thoughts did not linger long because the Word God had planted in my heart bubbled up into consciousness.
“Lord, you say in I Peter 5 that we are to resist the enemy when he first starts attacking us, so I will do that, with Your help. I will go about our normal life, just as if that had not happened. I will do my little stretches, eat dinner, have our quiet time and go to bed and tomorrow I’ll do our usual routine. I will keep doing our normal life, trusting in You, staying close to You, until things feel better.”
And that’s what I did. I finished out the day the best I could which, unfortunately for the diet, included chocolate and some other comforting edibles. Then I went to bed.
Learning more about humility. The next morning, I sorely wanted to stay in bed but as I fixed a cup of tea, John 16:33 came to mind.
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] (AMPC)
“Thank You, Lord. Help me know the truths in this verse deep in my heart. I do know they are true, though I still do not feel like it, and I choose to believe You. I know You do not want me to be unhappy, not even for one day, so I will keep trying.”
At the gym, verses I have recently meditated on and memorized about humility came to mind. After a wimpy workout, but a workout nonetheless, I walked back to the car.
“Lord, I do not know if I made a mistake and I do not know what I need to do differently now about this situation that has gone so wrong, but I will trust and obey. I ask You to guide me and show me what You want me to do. Help me to truly walk humbly with You, as You tell us in Micah 6, where You say that You require us “. . . to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy and to humble” ourself and walk humbly with You, our God.”
I drove home in silence, reflecting on that verse and the one about resisting the devil at the onset of his attacks. When I got home and read the whole passage that contains “resist the devil at his onset”, I was reminded, from previous study times, that it begins with the admonition to act with humility toward each other because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (Hebrews 5:5, NIV).
I also saw in my Bible where I had drawn arrows from one phrase to the next, indicating that because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, that we are to humble ourselves before God so that we are in the position for Him to lift us up, in due time. We are also to cast all our worries, anxieties and concerns on God, to control ourselves, keep watching alertly for our enemy, and resist him at the onset because our fellow believers around the world are having the same kinds of sufferings we are having. And God will, after we have suffered a little while, restore us and make us strong, firm and steadfast. (I Peter 5:5-11).
By grace. I lay down then, to take my usual hour of rest, pondering “I can do hard things like this, no matter how bad I feel. I have done many hard things by God’s grace, and this is no different. The enemy wants me to think it is impossible to keep living my usual life with God while this heartache of a situation goes on, but I can do whatever I need to do through God because He gives me His strength (Philippians 4:13.) And that passage in Peter might be the scriptural basis for what I’ve heard Bible teachers say, that hard times give us the chance to really grow because we learn more when we stand strong in trials than in easier times.
As the afternoon went on, I felt I should take time to read more of the two books about prayer that lay on the table beside the rocker. One book reminded me of the importance of spending time praying in the Spirit and how that helps when you do not know how to pray.
I took time right then to pray in tongues for a good while, feeling nothing, thinking nothing at first. Then, however, I sensed clear guidance from the Lord on some changes and additions I should make to my prayer life regarding this new painful situation.
“Father, thank You. I know by faith, that I will feel better soon. I am already feeling better, and thank You for bringing Psalm 86:17 to mind, for reminding me that when You help and comfort me, You are showing Your approval of me. I certainly do not deserve Your approval, Father, but I thank You that You earnestly remember and have imprinted on Your heart the fact that I am merely frail, human dust (Psalm 103:14). I still feel so helpless but I am hoping in You, with confidence and expectation.
Thank You that, though this might not be a serious thing to some people it is desperately serious and hard for me and I know You are busying Yourself with this detail of my life. I know Your eyes are on me and Your ears are open to my cries for help. I know You will never, no never, no never fail me or forsake me or relax Your grip on me. I know nothing, nothing, nothing is too hard for You. I know You are with me. I know You put my every tear in a bottle. I know You are with me wherever I go and that You keep careful watch over me. I know You will always help me. I know You will always guide every step I take as I keep trusting You and following You. I know You will keep guiding me. I know, Lord, that. . .
Dear friend and fellow pilgrim, I began writing this blog post to share how God can give us strength in the midst of what seems impossible, and that is still my purpose. However, as I wrote I realized I was able to get to a better place heart-wise, even though nothing at all has changed outwardly, because the Word I have studied and meditated upon and hidden inside my heart kept bubbling up into consciousness, in the very midst of roiling emotions.
So, again, I plead: take time, now, to diligently study the Word. Take time, now, to meditate-on-the-Word-with-the-intent-to-memorize it (even if you do not actually memorize it perfectly) so that you can resist the enemy and keep living this beautiful abundant life God has prepared for you. If you need help getting started on Bible study and meditation, see “Diligent Bible Study” and “Diligent Meditation” on the “Basics of Believing” tab of this website.
In this world, we all will have great troubles, but Jesus has overcome the world and deprived it of power to harm us, so we can be of good cheer (John 16:33). We can “put on God’s complete armor, so that we will be “able to resist and stand our ground on the evil day [of danger] and, having done all [the crisis demands] to stand [firmly in our place] (Ephesians 6:13, AMPC).
Whatever crisis you face today, I sincerely pray God gives you grace to put on His full armor and to stand firmly in your place. God adores you, and He wants you to walk in His ways so that you can have peace and the abundant life His Son Jesus died to give you (John 10:10).