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About a month ago, things were looking really lousy around the Everly home.
It was like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. We were sick, A was going through a sleep regression, J had lost his job (more on that at another time), our car was acting up, and so on, and so forth.
The whole time, I couldn’t stop myself from asking: God, where the heck are you?
I mean, here we were floundering, and every single time I prayed, I felt like I was talking to a brick wall. I felt absolutely nothing from Him. What I did feel was discouragement, anger, depression, and all in all, I felt like I was starting to lose my mind.
I wondered, does He even care how much we’re hurting? Has He totally forgotten about us? Because, man, it sure felt like that was the case.
One day, I was scrolling through Pinterest and came across this image:
It really struck me. When I read it, I felt like I was starting to understand why God wasn’t coming close to us: It was a test.
He wanted to see what I would do in the darkness I was in. Would I continue to seek His light, or would I falter in my faith and search elsewhere for comfort instead? Would I trust in His righteous judgment, or would I be vengeful and try to take matters into my own hands?
So I saved that picture and made it my phone’s background and lock screen, because I wanted to have a constant reminder of what I should (and should not be) doing. Because I’ll admit: some of the things I was doing were certainly making Satan rejoice.
I was doubting my testimony. I had little to no interest in attending church. I was grumpy, short, and had no patience for either my son or my husband. I needed a kick in the pants to remind me that wasn’t acceptable, and that I could (and needed to) do better.
This picture was also a reminder that, even in the darkness, even though I couldn’t see, hear, or feel God, He was still right there, just as close as ever. I needed to remind myself that everything I’ve known about God is still true, and by continuing to be faithful, I could guarantee that He would show up when the time was right.
So I kept at it: I kept reading the scriptures. I kept praying, morning, noon, night, and at meals (and frequently in between). I kept doing all the things I needed to do, even when it felt like I was going through the motions (because, truth is, I was.)
I had to keep on trucking, all the time reminding myself of all the things God has done for us already. He’s come through for us in miraculous ways time and time again – I had to tell myself there’s no reason this time should be any different. That we would rise and be victorious.
The thing is, what Satan wants more than anything is for us to fail. By putting doubts and questions in our minds, especially during times of trouble, he tries to sway us to his side. He has so many tricks he can use to try to undermine our relationship with God, and because he’s so determined, we need to be equally determined to succeed.
The best way to ensure your discouragement doesn’t make Satan rejoice is to take a close look at the things both God and Satan want from you.
What does God want from you?
- He wants you to trust Him. (Proverbs 3:5)
- He wants you to be humble and willing to learn. (Ephesians 4:2)
- He wants you to always seek Him. (Proverbs 8:17)
- He wants you to pray continuously. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- He wants you to be patient (1 Peter 2:19)
What does Satan want from you?
- He wants you to rebel against God.
- He wants you to be vengeful and take justice into your own hands.
- He wants you to be dishonest, believing that the ends justify the means.
- He wants you to fail.
- He wants you to be miserable, like he is.
And for extra encouragement, what does each one promise if you follow them?
- You’ll be forgiven. (Psalm 103:8-12)
- You’ll be free (John 8:36)
- You’ll have hope (Lamentations 3:25)
- He has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11)
- Absolutely nothing.
So if you’re not sure who to choose, well, look at the list again.
And for the record: God did step in at just the right time. We’ve been blessed more than I can possibly say over the past month, and even though it’s been hard, I’m grateful for the struggles we’ve had. I know that they truly have been for our benefit.
So whatever is going on in your life, I want to encourage you to hold tight to God. Even if you can’t feel Him, I promise He’s there. I promise He’s deeply interested in your success, and that you will emerge victorious if you do what He asks of you.
How do you focus on trusting God during times of trouble?