In my previous post I began to share how I believe the enemy works on God’s children to keep us unhappy in heart, weak in hands and defeated in our minds. Go back and read it so you can understand the context of how I finish my thoughts today. I want to tell you about the enemy’s design to suffocate your strengths and it is my hope that, as we expose his warfare, you will be better equipped to recognize it in your own life and journey with Jesus.
Do you remember a time when you enjoyed life a little more fully than you currently do? Looking back you were refreshed, hopeful, intentional and blessed as you lived from week to week. You had more energy in your legs and fewer dark circles under your eyes. Optimism was as real in your mind as was the happy adrenaline coursing through your circulatory system. Those were days when you laughed often, slept more deeply, enjoyed the company of others more frequently and believed that better things were right around the corner for you and those you love. For those of you who live their lives with a focus on serving God by serving others, back then you really felt that you were making a difference. Whether it was singing for Jesus, leading a bible study, visiting the sick, sacrificing for your kids as a work-at-home mom, tending to babies in a church nursery or providing care for an elderly parent, in those days you approached life with purposefulness. There was a significant sense that God was using you to make a difference. You were not imagining things…God was harnessing your strengths and working through you to work His good on several levels. You sensed an infusion of purpose and expectation regularly as you lived out your life. God was blessing, you were content and most of life made good sense.
And Satan’s forces refused to sit idly by and let that kind of thing continue unchallenged. They decided that it was essential to suffocate your strengths because your life posed a threat to hell’s purpose.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made…” – Genesis 3:1
It is not always easy to pinpoint when or how it happens because the serpent is as subtle today as he was in Eden’s ancient garden. Somewhere the things that formerly infused you with purpose and anticipation started becoming duty without delight. Obstacles were thrown in your path. Disappointments began to intrude and the occasional heartbreak stopped being occasional, and arose instead with greater frequency. Somebody you loved or respected wounded or disappointed you. Someone close to you failed you, an irreplaceable individual in your life moved on without you. A sense of aloneness began to seep into you, and you see now that your motivation began to seep out of you. Everything that once felt seamless in your life began to feel forced. Your mind was constantly peppered with the weight of the challenges, and you lost that sense of hopeful confidence that once chaperoned you to victory. Everything feels like work, labor and toil when you arrive at places like these in life. You feel like quitting, but you don’t quite have the courage to do it because you are also carrying around a fair amount of guilt about how others perceive you. In your mind you secretly wonder what the true reality is: is it how you used to feel about life or how you feel about it now? You wonder if the abundant life is a myth and, don’t tell anyone, you have had the occasional concern about whether or not this good God that you once easily believed in is so good after all. I have never seen a serpent smile but, during seasons like I am here describing, I am confident that he does, showing his sharp fangs and daring us to carry on.
Your areas of strength from God are tops on the list of Satan’s strategy against you. He exploits your weaknesses but the real hammer-blow is when he suffocates your strengths. Since you are a skilled spiritual-runner, he looks to weigh down your legs with the lead of heavy hurts and lesser tasks. Then he designs to shackle those feet of yours with the limitations of impossible circumstances. He wants you looking at your feet and not at the finish line. Not only are you sensing inability to harness your strengths anymore, you are wondering if you are going to survive. The enemy wears you out though mental, emotional and spiritual fatigue. Because your gifts are a legitimate threat to his dominion of darkness, he has no alternative but to bury those gifts. The enemy cannot afford to let you exercise your strengths without some opposition from him. This is what Satan does against all of us. He has to immobilize you and take the breath of hope from your spiritual respiratory system. When he is doing this, everything becomes much heavier than before. He will ensure that you experience circumstantial obstacles and that your progress is hindered by problematic people. He uses the words of others to bring you even lower and, somehow, it seems that he gets into your head, accessing your own thoughts and sending a barrage of fear to siphon the life-giving sap of hope out from the trunk of your heart. I know all about this and have battled it more in my lifetime than I ever could have anticipated. Wishing it would go away is ineffective. Giving into the defeatism is even worse. How then can we overcome such a skilled opponent who has mastered his craft over the entire spectrum of human history?
I plan to address this next week in another post. In the meantime, let the serpent be exposed with his tactics and spend some time calling on Jesus Christ. Your Rescuer, Jesus, will not leave you without aid. He will come to you in your battle and I encourage you to cry out to Him now, again in an hour, perhaps three times in the next two hours. Don’t stop communicating your need to Him because He will respond soon enough. HE. WILL. RESPOND. That is when you will learn even more deeply that the Lion’s roard silences the enemy’s hiss against you.