Lately God has been giving me “strategies” for certain types of situations in life. I feel like it comes one strategy at a time, one situation at a time until I have learned how to best use the strategy for a particular situation. And then, we’re on to another situation with another strategy and yet more learning.
I’ve been thinking on strategies a lot lately because I have weathered some difficult times in the past four years. As of late it has been my joy to help others through storms as well. My thoughts have led me to this conclusion: It’s just too easy for us Christians to throw out phrases such as “know your identity” and “just have faith” and “rise up warrior of God.” Easier said than done in most cases, and that’s only when we actually understand what is really being said. I mean, HOW does a person know their identity? What exactly is “identity” and how can you “rise up” in it? Telling a person to “have faith” is one thing – teaching them to do so is different.
I’m not entirely sure of the full plan that God has in teaching me these strategies. However, I am certain that as I grow and test them, they are tools that will indeed help others on the journey to freedom. Thus, below is a STRATEGY FOR DARK TIMES. This is one that I will candidly admit I have used many times over the past year. And I can finally say that it has become such second nature to me now that I hardly have the need to use it anymore.
The more you learn to fight, the stronger you become and the quicker you get at fighting the next battle. Before long you realize that you actually have the victory and you will then understand that because of Jesus, you are more powerful than you thought.
- Learn to fight back. When the enemy comes and brings his lies (which he will), you have to be prepared to fight back with scripture. Everyone’s “dark time” will look different. For me, it looks like I am being rejected by those I love and/or that I am just not good enough. Over time, I have found the specific scriptures that apply to this particular darkness. I have many, many passages that apply to me personally, but for the sake of time I will only use a few examples. I will, for example, take the scripture Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (KJV) and also all of Romans 8 and read them over and over (and over and over) again. I read them aloud until my spirit hears and rises up in faith (Romans 10:17). Sometimes, I even read them with gusto and anger in my voice, as if I’m yelling truth right in the devil’s face! For me, this is fighting back and it definitely helps me to see the light again (especially when used in conjunction with the other steps in this strategy).
- Don’t let the enemy speak. Only speak the words of God over yourself and your situation (and over others, if there are other people connected to this dark time). Don’t allow the devil to get a word in and don’t EVER agree with him! John 8:44 says that not only is he a liar and the “father of lies,” but there is absolutely zero truth found in what he says. Another personal example would be months ago when he tried to tell me that I wasn’t good enough to be in ministry. I could have dwelled on that lie – agreed with it, put my sword down and sank into my pillow feeling very sorry for myself – and I was indeed tempted to do so. But immediately I began to declare the promises of God over my life! I spoke aloud scriptures that God had used to confirm a calling on me, and I continued to prophesy good things over my life and my future. Any time the devil tried to say, “but what about this” or “what about that,” I disagreed with him in my mind and my heart and I verbalized what I believe to be the calling that God has on my life. I also went back and looked in old journals and reminded the devil that he had no proof of what he was saying. God’s calling has been clear over many years and I could no longer allow him to keep me silent or boxed.
It is also good to point out that we need to be careful of what we are feeding ourselves during this time. Television, radio, social media, friends – even world news can be something that the enemy uses to feed you with fear, doubt and angst. Worship music, Christian podcasts and friends who have your best interest at heart are the healthiest “food” during the dark times. Certainly fast from these things, but don’t isolate yourself!
- Remember and meditate on the good things God has done in your life. Psalm 145 (NIV) says it beautifully: “…Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you…” It goes on to say that He upholds those who fall. He gives food at the proper time. He opens His hand and satisfies your desires. He is near to those who call on Him, and rescues those who love Him. Our strength will surely return if during the dark times we would take each of these verses and meditate on the times in our personal lives where God specifically opened His hand to us…and rescued us, and came near. There has surely been a specific moment when He has done these things for you. Don’t let the devil steal your memories of the faithfulness of your God!
- Learn to PRAISE. Romans 8:6 in the New Living Translation says that when we let the Spirit control our minds our thoughts lead to life and peace. I have found that the best way to let the Spirit control my mind is to Praise God. Chains fall off when we praise God – Paul and Silas are a perfect example of this. In Acts 16, they were imprisoned and began to sing praises to God, only to find themselves free with an open door out of jail! I’m certain that there is a whole other lesson just in praise itself, but for now I think it important simply to understand that praise is a key that unlocks your chains and brings down walls (think Jericho!). When we praise God for who He is and what He has done, our mindset shifts and we find the life and peace we thought we lost. It’s often a sacrifice, but even if your praise is in between sobs and snotty tissues, it will still transform you.
- Remember you are in a Spiritual Battle. Read Ephesians 6 and don’t forget it. There are spirits and principalities and powers that absolutely HATE the Jesus in you. They will do whatever they can to keep you behind the smoke and mirrors so that you will not ever see how powerful and scary you really are. You are in a constant battle, so make sure that you remember it’s not always YOU that causes the darkness.
Some of these steps are harder than others, and sometimes when the darkness has overwhelmed a person for a long period of time it will be harder for them to accept this strategy at all. One thing that God promised me as I was coming out of the dark times is a beautiful picture from Isaiah 45 (NLT), and I believe it is a promise for you as well. Meditate on it and use it for yourself if you need. God never lies.
2 This is what the Lord says:
“I will go before you…
and level the mountains.
I will smash down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
3 And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.