Charlie and I have been in a battle of late for healing of annoyingly persistent pain in her right hip and leg. In the process of seeking both divine and medical solutions our journey to a (thankfully temporary) trip through an oncologist's office (she is fine, and it was just part of the process of eliminating causes for her pain).
Any of you who have been reading this blog for very long will know that our adversary the devil used the specter of the C word to cast us (especially me) into the furnace of fear (the "feary" furnace). But rather than allowing us/me to be defeated by fear, Papa used this season to teach me some new things about overcoming fear. Much of this is still in the formative stage for me, but I promised my intercessors that I would share a little of what I am learning, so here goes.
- The battle is for our minds and hearts, and it's a battle centered around the character of God. From humanity's first temptation to this very day, the enemy's tactic has always been to attack God's character in order to cause us to doubt His goodness. I have known this for a long time, I guess, but this latest battle has caused this truth to become crystal clear. The thoughts of doubt and fear that the adversary tried to plant in my mind were clearly based on the premise that God is not truly good and likes to use bad things to bless us! God's answer especially to Charlie and me this time was to remind us over and over of what Matthew 7:11 and similar passages say: that He is totally good and never causes or needs bad things to accomplish His will, even though He will use those things when they come our way. There is far more that I am learning in this area, both about the battle for the mind and the absolute goodness of God, but that's for another day.
- The devil never fights fair, and he won't back off without a fight. We know this, of course, but there's always been something in me that forgets this. But remembering these truths helps to keep me from being surprised or overwhelmed at the force of his wickedness when it comes against us. It also reminds me that there's a reason why we are told to "resist" (take an unyielding stand against) the devil! Hoping he will "be nice" and "play fair" only leads to discouragement. Our hope must be in God's goodness, love and power, not in some notion that our adversary will grow weary or back off all by himself. I don't mean for this to sound gloomy--life can be very good at times, of course, and it has been and is for my family and me. But if an attack comes, I will fight the battle best if I remember how our adversary works.
- God's answer to our fears is both comfort and "command." This is the biggest new one for me, I think. I have written previously about Psalm 56:3 (do a search on it and you will find those entries). Papa showed me how that verse tells us that we can always collapse onto Him when we are afraid. That truth alone carried me a long way in the painful journey of 2009-2010. But in this season I am seeing very clearly what God says about fear: When He speaks about fear to us there is not only encouragement but also an instruction to choose not to yield to it. There is a choice we make, empowered by His Spirit, to turn away from fear, to choose not to feed it, to resist it by strategic collapse into God's goodness. I am sure I have known this at some level before--after all, most of the times in Scripture where God says, "Don't be afraid" it really is a command. But I am taking this command more seriously theses days, realizing that "where God guides, He provides, when He commands, He empowers." Specifically in this latest journey this has meant obeying His many instructions not to feed my fear by allowing my mind to run to "what if" or by doing "research," or listening to the wrong input. Taking my thoughts captive has taken on a whole new meaning, of late, as I have learned to listen very carefully to Papa, to trust His speaking and my ability to hear Him and to choose not to whine (whining is music to the devil's ears!). We have a choice as to with whom we will agree when fears and troubles assail us, and agreeing with our fears, with our adversary only empowers them. Hence God's gracious command says: "Don't be afraid!" (or as it often reads: "don't go on being afraid," "don't go on yielding to fear.").
- Listening to God is absolutely essential. This is obvious from the paragraph above, but the absolute necessity of listening, listening, listening to Papa's stream of communication (battle instructions) has taken on new clarity for Charlie and me.
- Fear and faith are not opposites. I have written about this before, but I close today with a reminder about this. Fear is an emotion, faith is a decision based upon our growing experience and understanding of God's goodness and power. Psalm 56:3-4 shows us this clearly, I think. David starts by collapsing onto God when the emotion of fear comes his way, then he chooses to transfer his trust from himself with his limited perception of things to God, who knows all things and who is unwaveringly good and trustworthy. (Fear can also, of course, be a demonic spirit, and the attack by such a spirit can be vicious and persistent, but God's answer can and will rise up within us as we remember that He, the Infinite One, lives inside us.)
That's it for today. The battle for Charlie's healing continues, so the furnace is still burning around us at times, but I share these lessons in the hope that they may give you courage and encouragement. God is for us--and that means more to me than ever. May it be so for you as well.
Kept by His power,
Tom, one of His children