Did you find yourself listening to this past Sunday’s sermon, passively thinking, “This is a really awesome sermon, and I’m sure many people are benefitting greatly from hearing it, but it doesn’t apply to me too much.”? I did. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s denial. Maybe it’s true for you. Maybe you don’t suffer from negative thoughts to the degree that others do. I thought that was true of me.
Then I opened my laptop to look at the comments a professor had left for me on a draft of a paper I had submitted. I was pretty happy about my draft. She wasn’t. She used words like muddy and unclear. Muddy and unclear?!How could she say that? I quickly read back through my draft and suddenly saw that she was right. It was muddy and unclear.
Then the thoughts started:
- I am a terrible writer.
- I got the worst review.
- I shouldn’t be in this class.
- I’m deluding myself thinking I can do this.
- I don’t even want to fix it. What’s the point? It will never be good.
This went on and on until I was avoiding addressing the problem altogether.
Last night, I remembered that I was to write this devotional and I thought about the topic. There is a tape that plays in our minds that is placed there by Satan (not by my professor). And I was not as invulnerable to his lies as I thought.
It’s true, my draft stank. But all of the thoughts that followed were Satan’s way of exploiting the situation. He is a liar, the author of untruth, and unfortunately, he writes well on my mind. If he could convince me that these things were true, that I was deluding myself with the possibility of success, then he could take out a potential soldier of God.
In times like these, I often look to Job. In addition to making me feel small about making my very tiny molehills into mountains, Job also gives me the correct way to view my circumstances and the correct way to respond. He teaches me to trust God, who always speaks truth and light.
Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.
— Job 42:4–6
Job turned to the Lord, whose mere presence was enough to make him stop questioning his circumstances.
God is present. And what he says is that we are made in his image (Genesis 1:27). He says that we are made for good works, which he prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2:10). And Jesus said that Satan will attempt to deceive even the chosen (Matthew 24:24).
Is your attempt at what you thought to be a good work being thwarted? Are you tempted to give up because you are beginning to believe those voices in your head are true? Stop. Know that the Lord is present. Take his strength, turn around and cast Satan’s words out of your mind.
And, last but not least, if you have never trusted in the Lord, Jesus Christ, as your savior and king, try. Ask him to show you. Open your heart to his love and guidance. Accept his sacrifice for your eternal soul.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
— Ephesians 6:13