Monday, August 22, 2011

How To Deal With The Fear That Seems To Prevail

Make no mistake about it, you are hated. The hatred is not because of who you are or even what you do; it is because of whose you are. Satan can't stand the sight or smell of you because you are loved by the Father. He doesn't fear you but he certainly fears the One in you and for this reason he will use every opportunity to try to destroy you. His usual tools are fear, discouragement, anxiety, panic or anything else he can use against the peace Jesus Christ has given us. He is the great Accuser and he will constantly remind you of your sins and failures, bringing your past up against you any time you attempt to soar with the eagles. But he is a liar! Those things belong under your feet.

The greatest weapon we have against our Enemy is faith but that faith cannot be based on hearsay. Faith that can stand against the onslaught of the enemy is faith that is based in the knowledge of God's promises to his children. We have to know these promises in order for our faith to have any substance. Faith is key to our victory over every scheme of the enemy. Remember:

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. (Ephesians 6:12)

Listen, I know what it is to sink into the dark abyss, when it seemed like the mountains were crashing down upon me, when panic and fear overwhelmed me and what I knew seemed to flee from my grasp. I know what it is to feel the tightness of my chest, and my stomach all over the floor. I know what it is to sit in the middle of the kitchen floor trying to get the room to stop spinning. I know what it is to be lost in doubt and fear in the darkness of the night as my bed became a tomb instead of a place of rest. I know what it is to forget, even for the briefest moment, the love of Jesus. I know what it is to lose myself in that darkness. I know.

But I also know what it is to be rescued from that darkness by the light of Jesus by simply remembering who my God is, who I am in Christ and what his promises are to me. I know what it is to cause the curtain of despair to part to allow the truth of who I am in Christ to come flooding in. I know what it is to preach the Word out of my own need only to have that need met as I ministered to others. I know what it is to take council from the Word of God, to put on the full armour of God and to use that shield of faith to defend against Satan's attacks:

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)

But this fight is not a one time thing. You don't defeat the enemy and watch him limps away. Even with Jesus we are told that the enemy left him until a more opportune time. He will come at you from all kinds of angles, always with the same tools; fear, intimidation, doubt, anxiety, shadows, plenty of shadows, shadows of possibilities. Never anything of substance but always possibilities. The situations and the people who may be part of this are not the enemy. In most cases they are not even aware of the war being waged against you. The source of these things is the darkness and so we must fight this spiritual battle spiritually.

Don't lay in your bed late at night allowing those thoughts and ideas to plague your peace. Don't allow your bed to become associated with your fears. All those who belong to Jesus Christ have been promised peace. Get out of that bed and pray. Fight against the enemy with your faith, with the Word of God. Praise the Lord for his promises, repeating them out loud so the enemy can hear them. If you have a spouse or a friend who can pray with you wake them up. Where two or three are gathered Christ is there. We have been told we can ask anything in our relationship with Jesus and it will be given to us. Do battle every night until that peace is restored to you. I pick on the night because that is when the enemy is the strongest in his attacks, but when we contend in our faith joy always comes in the morning.

Sometimes we allow ourselves to be lied to, that the Christian life is all "butterflies and daffodils", that there is no real work or effort, no struggles, just existing with Jesus. When we think like this we are often broadsided by the enemy's schemes. The Christian life is a battle ground because we are part of a war. In this war we are promised the constant abiding peace of Jesus and his joy is our strength but those things will come under attack. We are told:

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 saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

The message of alertness is repeated:

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. (1 Thessalonians 5:6)

Peter told us plainly so that we have no excuse of being caught unaware of what we are involved in:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

That's another thing to remember, you are not alone in this. You are not unique in this struggle. You are not some kind of oddball reject that God is disappointed in. You are facing the same battle that every other follower of Jesus Christ is facing.

You can't sit back and hope that someone else will take your place in this battle. It is true that the battle belongs to God but he tells us to get our armour on, to take our place and to stand, resisting the enemy. He does not tell us to lie on our bed, in the dark, tossing and turning. Get up child of God! Get that armour in place and fight on your knees until the full victory is yours. The enemy has no power over us except for the power we permit him to have.

What do you do about the fear and anxiety that seems to prevail in those darkest moments? Run quickly to Jesus. Get into the Word and know the promises you have been given. Declare your trust in the Holy One. Get that shield of faith in place. Worship and testify to the goodness of God. Pray. Pray ceaselessly. Pray for others. Partner with people to pray with. Remember at all times who you belong to and why you are in this place. The Holy Spirit will strengthen you and encourage you. The Lord will maintain his peace and joy in you. Our Father will put the enemy to flight. Trust God.

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