What if you’re influenced daily by the internal voices you hear?
We’ve all seen cartoons depicting a character torn between the voice of an angel on one shoulder and a pitchfork devil on the other telling him the right or wrong way to handle something. While the visual may be a comical representation of good and evil, the reality is we have a God who loves us and an enemy who hates us.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8
Each of them is communicating with us each day. So which one are we listening to?
- God says: You’re my child. I created you. I love you. I died for you.
- Satan says: No one wants you. No one loves you. You may as well die.
Think about it…
- God says: You were wonderfully created, and I will continue to do a good work in you.
- Satan says: You are worthless and hopeless. Nothing good will come from you.
Who is for us and who is against us?
- God says: You sinned. Let me help you.
- Satan says: You’re a failure. You’re not able to be helped.
One offers life, the other death.
- God says: I delight in you.
- Satan says: You’re a disappointment.
One welcomes us, the other cuts us off.
- God says: Nothing can separate you from my love.
- Satan says: You’re so bad, you’ve done something so terrible, no one could love you. You’re a loser and an idiot.
One offers freedom, the other slavery.
- God says: I came through Jesus to save you and to free you from bondage. I am the way.
- Satan says: You’ll always be trapped. There is no way out.
One relates to our suffering, the other causes it.
- God says: I care about your pain. I suffered mocking, insults and torture. I understand. Let me comfort you and heal your wounds.
- Satan says: God doesn’t care about you or he wouldn’t allow pain.
One brings good out of trials, the other makes us a victim.
- God says: In the world you’ll have trials. I will use them to strengthen and grow you because I love you.
- Satan says: Everything bad or hard that happens is because God doesn’t love you.
One offers forgiveness, the other seeks revenge.
- God says: I forgive you freely. Forgive others in the same way. Put them in my hands, and you will be free.
- Satan says: If you forgive, you’re letting someone off the hook. Hold a grudge, seek vindication and revenge so you can feel better about what was done to you.
One offers a way to live well, the other offers counterfeit living.
- God says: I give you guidelines for life so you will prosper. If you trust and follow me, I’ll make your path clear and straight.
- Satan says: God is a dictator who wants to control you. He wants to ruin your freedom and fun. Your intellect, ideas and plans are better.
One gives, the other takes.
- God says: I gave my life freely so you can have abundant life. If you are generous like I am, I will give you more.
- Satan says: God is trying to take your time, your money, your freedom, your life. If you give, you will lose.
One does for us, the other says we can’t ever do enough.
- God says: I loved you first, even when you were doing wrong. Love me and others and you’ll want to do what’s right.
- Satan says: If you do enough right, maybe God will love you. Oh, by the way, you’ll never be good enough.
Who are you listening to today?
(Gen. 1, Deut.29:9, Phil. 1:6, Psalm 139, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 4:7-8, Zep, 3:17, Psalm 23, John 3:16, John 10:10, Rom. 8:28, Jer. 29:11, Psalm 119:8-9, Rom. 8:38-39, Isaiah 41, Matt. 18:21-35, Isaiah 42:1, 7 & 16, Luke 12:6-7, Rom. 5, Rom. 8:1, 1 Thes. 5:9 to name a few…)
The dictionary definition of despair is “to lose, give up, or be without hope.”
“The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair.”
I would add that something done to us that is irreversible can also lead to despair. Despair is that feeling that every option is depleted and there’s no use trying anything else because nothing will yield positive results.
Haven’t we all been there at one point or another?
Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest had some great insights about despair and how to handle it. He explains how the disciples must have felt despair when they were asked by Jesus to keep watch and pray with him, but they fell asleep instead.
That night was a pretty big deal.
When soldiers came to take Jesus, the disciples realized they had lost their opportunity to participate in a special time with Jesus. And the worst was that they may never see him again. Since he was crucified soon after that, it ended up being the last moments they spent with him alive. At least until he rose again. But they didn’t know that then.
Whether a tragic event has occurred in our life, we’ve done something regrettable, or we’ve missed a great opportunity, with God there is always a future. Even if we can’t change what’s happened, we can act for what is to come.
Chambers reminds us that Jesus encouraged the disciples to “Get up and do the next thing.”
When faced with despair, I’ve learned to:
- Grieve over the situation. Acknowledge the reality of what’s happened. Neither denying nor wallowing is helpful.
- Leave what’s happened in God’s hands. He sees all and has a plan for everything. What’s been done to us, or what we’ve done is no surprise to him. Our plan B has always been his plan A because he knew what would happen. He’s granted forgiveness. He’ll bring comfort. He’s the God of justice and mercy.
- Remember that God has a future hope for me that can’t be cut off. (Prov. 23:18; Prov. 24:14 & Jer. 29:11)
- Look to that future. What is the next step I can take? Take it.
- And as Oswald Chambers says…
“Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.”
Despair is real, human and expected from time to time. We may even feel we can’t pull out of it. But by taking these steps, and being patient with myself, I’ve learned to move ahead with my life–even when life seemed like it must be over.
It’s not over until God says it’s over.
What are some steps you’ve found to be helpful in dealing with despair?
A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful conversation with my eldest son.
During the course of our discussion, he made two comments in relation to life and career:
If you are unwilling to experience discomfort, you will not experience success.
It’s okay if I keep failing as a result of trying to grow.
Since our chat, I’ve thought a lot about that conversation and the wisdom of those two statements. I think they apply to life in general, but I’ve specifically thought about them in regard to my writing career.
Sometimes, I must really push myself outside of my area of comfort in order to find get to the place I really want to be. With trepidation I pressed myself to:
- write my first book
- approach publishers
- attend writer’s conferences
- start a blog
- join Twitter
- write a second book
- have my work critiqued (several times)
- submit proposals
- re-write both books numerous times
- entered contests
- learn, practice, learn more, practice again
- write articles
- seed out the advice of established authors
- attend a mentoring class
- read a lot (okay, so that part is fun)
For some people, those things may be easy. For others, the same activities may feel impossible. Looking back on the journey, I see that I am becoming more successful as I am willing to be uncomfortable. Because we’re only uncomfortable for a little while, until we try, learn and become comfortable again with our new knowledge or abilities.
And even though I’ve failed a lot doing the above things, I’ve been growing. So the failure is part of the process and actually something to be embraced, not avoided.
I want to see my life in the same light.
Pushing outside my comfort zone, trying, failing, learning, failing, and growing.
Thanks for sharing, Josh. I love you.
What makes you uncomfortable? Where have you found growth in failing?
Here I am again on a Thursday realizing that I missed my self-imposed Wednesday posting deadline. What’s the deal?? Good thing this deadline isn’t a publisher deadline. Phew…but maybe if it was, I wouldn’t miss it. Ahh…there’s something to consider.
So, as I began to berate myself for my lack of consistency, I examined the reasons why I am so remiss at writing, when as we’ve already established, I love to write. It occurred to me, as I reviewed my day yesterday with it’s appointments, touch of illness, emergency trip to the dentist with my son and the completion of created Christmas gifts that needed to be shipped to Australia days ago, that I have actually been setting myself up for failure. Wednesday is my busiest day every week. It is the day that I end up at 11 p.m. longing to be in bed, but remembering that I’ve yet to produce my blog for the week. Ugh! Takes the joy right out of writing.
Changing my posting day seems like a simple enough answer. Especially since I’m the one who created the deadline in the first place! But, I find that a sense of failure looms over me. Isn’t that the way of it? I fail by not meeting a deadline, or I fail if I change the deadline to accommodate my schedule. The truth is that by doing the second, I set myself for success rather than for failure. Hmm…
In how many areas of my life do I set my self up for failure? Or do I set up for success? Do I do the same with others too? If I create positive, attainable boundaries that can be met, then success follows. Right? But if I expect myself to meet deadlines that can”t be obtained without great duress, I’m bound to fail. Goals=good; unrealistic expectations=not so good.
New posting day – Fridays. End of the week. Open day. Should be workable. What a set up for success!
A simple shift in perspective which means this post is actually early, not late.