The Word tells us to press on, to keep moving forward (Phil. 3:14). We are encouraged by Paul to know that we are not alone. That every Christian experiences trials and temptations, and that in our life, we will encounter hardship and struggle. We are not isolated, and we are not the only ones to experience pain and suffering.
"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." (1 Cor. 10:13 NLT)
No, we all are being conformed to His suffering, and in that way, we are being remade into His Image and Likeness (Romans 8:29). Trials and temptations are a part of that experience. How we handle these trials is key. Do we give in, sit down, and stew over them OR to we get up, face them head on, and do as Paul suggests: press on toward that goal, to win the prize that Christ has waiting for us at the finish line?
"I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." (Phil 3:14 NLT)
Well, I know the answer. I know what my answer should be -- a resounding YES! YES! Lord!! Unfortunately, I also know what I did, that I chose instead of pressing on, to sit down in the dirt and grovel. I didn't stand in faith, I didn't lift up my Shield of Faith and my precious Sword of the Spirit. No, I sat fully clothed in the Amour of God, and I chose to be overwhelmed and beaten, instead of Victorious in Jesus' Name. I experienced what many of my brothers and sisters experience each day -- I was bested by the enemy, and I sat defeated, dejected, and depressed over my failure to stand firm in Faith in Christ Jesus.
I sit here today feeling the lumps and bruises of a vicious attack. I listened carefully, and I followed what I believed were clear instruction and commands of the Lord. Instead, I found out that in doing so, I was not listening to the Lord at all, but listening to that voice inside my head, the voice that was feeding my feelings of insecurity and exhaustion. I listened and I took steps that didn't move me closer to the goal of Christ Jesus, but that were cloaked in good intentions and in the belief that they would make me feel better about myself, and elevate the pain in my current situation. I did it. I listened. I obeyed, but in doing so, I came to realize that there are times when the Lord asks us to remain still. There are times when we are to endure, to wait patiently, and to be confident in His Rescue. We are not to go and help ourselves out of that pit. We are not to barter or bargain our way out of the suffering. No, we are to remain still, to be silent, and to let the Lord be Glorified in and through our circumstance. I realize it now. I see how it was, and I grasp the significance of my actions. I understand, and I am humbled by the experience.
The Lord had chosen for me to endure a particular trial. I didn't want to do it, and I was not content to "be" where I was in that moment. I wanted out, and I wanted out NOW. The Lord told me to remain, to be still, to know He was right there in the midst of the issue, that He was with me. I was not content to see His Way. I wanted out, and I wanted the pain to stop.
In hindsight, I see that all I did in that moment, did not make matters better for myself. In truth, my choices served to prolong my agony, and resulted in a final dosing of battering and bruising.
The good news is that today, while I may be smarting from that attack, I am able to understand what I did and didn't do. I can plan for the next one, and yes brothers and sisters, there will be a next attack. The enemy doesn't give up on us, and he doesn't go away. He may go bother someone else for a time, but he will be back. He will not give up until the day of the Lord, until the Day Christ returns. So until then, we can be prepared, to be alert, to remain on guard or we can continue to battle-weary and beaten down.
I know now why this attack occurred, and I understand what I did that brought it on. I asked for something of the Lord, some new kind of understanding (a new way to comprehend), and in doing so, I experienced an assault that demonstrated to me that what I had asked for was something to be greatly desired and sought after, something the enemy does not want believers to know and to experience. Yes, I asked to understand the Power of God's Name more fully, more completely. I asked to grasp how significant His Name is, and how His Name works in and through our lives. I wanted to know this power, to experience this power -- not to wield over others, not to become an overlord -- but to really understand victory, and to walk and live in that victory on a daily basis.
The enemy had other plans, and while he bested me this time, God has final authority over the eventual outcome. The enemy, 0; Jesus, 1 (WON!)
I know this is true. I know the Word, and I grasp how important it is for those of us who claim the Blood of Christ to walk in His Victory. When we walk in the flesh, we are miserable. When we walk in the Spirit, we are free, we overcome. I chose poorly. I chose the way of the flesh this past week, and I ended up with a good dose of reality. God is more than the sum total of my pain and suffering. He is more than all my moods, my lack of energy, and my inability to perform well. He is more than anything I could experience, anything I could imagine, and anything I could dream. He can do all things, and nothing is impossible for Him.
My flesh is weak. It is flawed. I fail miserably, and I suffer torment from my own hand (past choices that brought physical, emotional and mental pain). I suffer torment from the enemy, who delights in my suffering. I give in, I give up, I don't care at times. I say "Enough! No more," and I whine (whimper). I am weak. I am at fault, and I make decisions that are based on how I feel, and not on what is best for me, for my family, or for another person.
Yes, this is all true. But there is a golden side as well. There is the truth that says that He reigns:
"The LORD is king! He is robed in majesty. Indeed, the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken." (Psalm 93:1 NLT)
"The LORD is king! Let the nations tremble! He sits on his throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake!" (Psalm 99:1 NLT)
No matter how weak and frail I may be today, and no matter how often my body and my spirit will become overwhelmed, the Lord our King sits enthroned in majesty. He is King. He is on the throne, and nothing will make Him move, nothing will shift Him from His Righteous Place. He is Lord of all, Lord over my life, and He is Victorious.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
5praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.