Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet
we did esteem him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised
for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon
him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Are you suffering today? Life is full of times and circumstances that cause us suffering. Maybe it's a physical illness. Maybe it's an emotional upset. It doesn't matter what the cause of our suffering may be, suffering makes us vulnerable to the
temptations and snares of the enemy of our souls. We are far weaker and more apt to slip into sin when we are suffering in some form. That's when the devil tried his best to entrap Jesus at the start of His earthly ministry: Jesus was
alone, hungry, and vulnerable at that time. But Jesus had God's word as a weapon to defeat the enemy, and that is our greatest weapon as well.
Remember the acronym S-H-A-L-T: Sad - Hurt - Angry - Lonely - Tired. These are times when we are especially vulnerable to sin.
Take special care at these times of suffering to stay close to God. Fill your minds with God's Word so you have the proper weapons to battle the enemy.
The battle is a spiritual one, and we cannot fight spiritual battles in our own power; we need the power of God!
The Bible tells us in the book of Ephesians to put on the full armor of God, because we are not in a battle with flesh and blood.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh
and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual
wickedness in heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:11-12)
It will also help us to overcome if we will fix these facts firmly in our minds, long before we are in a place of suffering.
- God's boundaries are good boundaries. God's boundaries are for our own protection, not to limit us.
They keep us from sin, and from the resulting guilt, shame, regret, and separation from God. God does not want His children to have to live with guilt, shame, and regrets.
- All sin is first and foremost against God.
Too often we are more concerned with simply avoiding the consequences of our sin than with offending God.
Fear of the consequences is a good reason to avoid sin, but it's not the best reason. The best reason to avoid sin is to keep our relationship with God whole, with no separation between us and our Lord.
- All temptation eventually comes to an end.
We are not the only one fighting this temptation. The enemy tries to make us feel like it's just us, and that we are somehow weak and powerless, or that this suffering will never end. All lies!
It is ultimately our own choice whether or not we fall into sin. God will always give us a way to resist the temptation to sin.
There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to
man: but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted
above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make
a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Cor. 10:13)
Be aware of the traps the enemy sets for us.
Many people quote that verse:
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
They then wonder why the devil still hasn't fled.
Maybe because they forgot the first part of that same verse, which specifically says:
“Submit yourself therefore to God.”
Our strength to resist the enemy comes from God, not our own efforts! That's so important it's worth repeating:
Our strength to resist the enemy comes from God, not our own efforts! We need to remain strong in the Lord. The power of God is always available, it is within us.
The Bible says:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord,
and in the power of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10) .
We also need to learn to recognize patterns of “stinkin' thinkin'” that makes us vulnerable to sin.
The first pattern is the "victim" mentality. The enemy would just love for us to believe that we are victims! This kind of thinking makes us feel like our situation is hopeless, or like we have no control, or no choice.
"Victim" thought patterns include thoughts like, “What's the use?”; “It doesn't matter what I do, I can't win”; “I'm just so weak.” or “Why does this always happen to me”.
Another pattern of “stinkin' thinkin'” is "entitlement" mentality. This one causes us to justify our actions, make excuses for them, or minimize them. Examples of this type of thoughts
include thoughts like, “It's just this once”, “No one will ever know.”, “It's really not that big a deal.”, “After all I've been through, I deserve this.” or “I know God wants me to be happy.”
Our Heavenly Father does not intend for His chldren to live with either a sense of victim-hood or one of entitlement.
It has truthfully been said that our seasons of suffering will either make us bitter or better. Our thoughts will determine our actions, so we must learn to control our thoughts!
But how do we do that?
Learn to think differently! Daily feed your mind on the truths of God's Word to be renewed and transformed.
And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what
is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
- Remember that God has given us a strong mind! A strong mind means that first, we are able to discern right and wrong, and second, that we can control our thoughts!
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power,
and of love, and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7)
- We can overcome our trial and temptations without sinning, because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. Focus on the presence of God, not on yourself.
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome
them: because greater is he that is in you, than
he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
- Speak the truths of God's word into your situation, not the lies of the devil. Hide God's word in your heart; it will help keep you from sinning.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I
might not sin against thee. (Ps. 119:11)
God never leaves us suffering and hopeless: He give us the weapons we need to remain strong and not give in to sin during our times of suffering.
We cannot do these things on our own, in our own power, but He gives us the power we need! Amen!