Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

~Philippians 3:13-14 (New International Version, ©2010)~

As I sit here tonight, fighting a spirit of defeat I am reminded that there will be times when the devil will try his hardest to make me feel as though I do not have a good handle on my life.  There will be times when it feels as though he is attacking from all sides and in those times, the best weapon of defense that I have against him is prayer and my undying faith in Jesus Christ. 

This week has been a difficult week.  Difficult because it was filled with a variety of problems which I simply cannot resolve on my own.  The problems faced will have to be dealt with by prayer and by having faith that they are part of God’s plan for me and that they are tests which I will need to pass in order to go on to the next level in my walk with Him.  One glimmer of hope in all of this is that I now understand that this is what is happening whereas before, I simply threw up my hands in despair and wondered, “Why me?”  Just knowing that God is on my side makes things so much better.

My daughter has been having problems lately.  She is very sad and doesn’t want to go to school.  She claims that no one is bothering her, yet the very thought of going to school sends her into a crying fit that goes on for what feels like hours.  I have done everything that I can to help her cope, but something else is going on.  I may never know what, but I know that when I remind her that God is watching over her she takes great comfort in it and the crying eases up a little.  It makes a parent feel so powerless when they can’t help their child feel better.  It is so much simpler if it’s a cold or something like that.  When it’s a broken heart, well, that one’s truly contagious and often seemingly incurable.   If only she would tell me what is hurting her.  If only I could better follow her example and be more comforted by the knowledge that God is, in fact, with us during this difficult time. 

It occurred to me that if watching my daughter go through what she’s going through pains me this much, imagine how God must feel when He looks at us in our suffering.  He knows that if we would just reach out and tell Him what is wrong, He could make things so much better.  Instead, like our own children, we hold it in and try to be “grown-ups,” handling things on our own when we can and pushing the rest aside until we feel like we have enough energy to face it again.  And it builds up over time until we are one day faced with a monster that we cannot seem to conquer.  If we are walking outside of faith, we will feel terrified and utterly defeated.  If we, however; turn to God and give it all over to Him, we stand a good chance of becoming like David and defeating our Goliaths.

I used to enjoy reading Edgar Allan Poe when I was younger.  His work was a little scary, but at that time I had no fear.  I hadn’t yet encountered the monsters which would soon present themselves in my life.  After a time, however; I began to shy away from anything that would be even remotely scary.  So many things happened that began to instill terror in me that I backed myself into an emotional corner, refused to deal with anything and spent much of my time in constant retreat from whatever presented itself as a challenge in my life.  That was before I came to God.  In Christ, I have found a new strength; one that helps me face the hard times with confidence even when my heart is aching and my mind is stuck on “duh.”  I know that all I have to do to figure things out is to pick up a Bible, turn to any page and just read.  I know that if I sit down and call on God, He will answer.  If I allow Him time to look up my file, He will soon present me with all of the necessary resources to tackle the problem at hand.  But I can’t sit and bite my nails, shivering in the corner and running away from the last worst thing that happened and expect anything good to come of it.  I have to stand up, put on the full armor of God and face the problem. 

I have a poem hanging on my wall that says, “Though oft I feel discouraged I know that God is there.  And even when I whisper, He hears my faintest prayer.”  This is so true.  Even if we find ourselves quaking in the corner, if we just take a moment to call on Him He will hear us and He will help us.  Though He would love to see us work things out on our own using His word as a guide, He would never let us falter if He knows we want His help.  So, what does it all mean?  Poe was haunted by the loss of his love, Lenore.  He wrote the poem, The Raven as a lamentation.  Several biblical references throughout this poem made me wonder whether or not Poe was following God.  The degree of sadness with which he spoke would indicate that he felt powerless over the losses he experienced in his life and this would indicate that he wasn’t putting his faith in God, but perhaps wanted to do so.  It may seem odd to reference him here in this way, but it came to my mind and it stuck there.  How much of what we allow to engulf us is simply the shadow of something we should have long since defeated? 

“And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted — nevermore!”

~Edgar Allan Poe~

It is sad to think of how much time I wasted in my youth trying to run away from the things I needed to face.  Had I just turned around and fought, my life might have taken a much different turn.  Without God, however; I had no strength to fight.  When I was wandering around blaming Him for what was wrong in my life, I had no ally.  When I had convinced myself that He had stopped loving me, I sat under the shadow of my own “Raven” and felt very much like my soul would never be lifted from where it lay under mountains of pain and suffering.  But the Lord is a mover of mountains.  He is a shaker of foundations and He will push the clouds away.  Thank God I have been delivered from that time in my life.  I cannot express to you the sense of relief I have when I am faced with a painful situation now that I am finally walking on God’s path.  If you are in a place where you feel you have no victory, call out to Him.  Don’t think that you’ve gone too far or that you’re out of his reach.  He is there for you, always.

   Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
   Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
   the LORD will be my light.

~Micah 7:8 (New International Version, ©2010)~

 

  

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