Humbling (verb) – 1. to make meek; ex. to humble one’s heart.
2. to destroy the independence, power or will of.
That’s the word that sums up the last three weeks of my life.
The interesting thing about being humbled is it can be both a positive feeling and an unfavorable one. I’ve had both.
God has done some amazingly big things in my life the last few weeks — guiding me through leading my first women’s retreat, my first public speaking opportunities, and calling me to travel half-way across the U.S. to serve a hurting, struggling population that our country has forgotten. The way God can use us for His purpose, the way He has used me the last few weeks has been humbling in a good way. A way that reminds me that He is omnipotent and worthy of the highest praise. Like the first definition, He has humbled my heart with gentility and meekness.
On the flip side, some pretty difficult things have happened the last few weeks. Challenges at work and with my kids; attacks on my marriage and on my health. It’s been humbling…but more in the sense of the second definition. A feeling that my independence and will have been destroyed.
While God will humble our hearts and make us meek, He does not set-out to destroy us. That is the work of the enemy; and it’s been abundantly clear that Satan has been on the attack in my life and some of those around me.
Growing up in the church spiritual warfare was not a term I recall hearing, and even the concept of “an enemy” was a bit abstract, to say the least. As I entered young adulthood conversations by other Christians referring to attacks from Satan made me a bit uncomfortable, as I wasn’t sure what I believed here. I put these thoughts away in a corner cabinet, along with topics like speaking in tongues, intercession, the entire book of Revelation, and anything else that my narrow Protestant view struggled to understand (and please know this is not a statement against the Protestant church, just that my exposure to these topics and ability to process them was limited).
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen first-hand that spiritual warfare is very real. It took me years to be able to identify this and understand the difference between normal every-day struggles and full-on attacks of the enemy. And it took even longer for me to feel comfortable speaking about this to others and learning how to identify when it was happening.
If you grew up in a more traditional or conservative church like I did, this may be an unfamiliar or uncomfortable topic…but it’s so important that as Christians we are able to identify when this is happening so we can strengthen our defenses and draw closer to God for help, instead of letting the enemy pull us further away with doubt and hurt.
One pattern I have identified is that when God is doing big work in your life or community, the enemy goes on the attack. Is your church having a season of growth and expansion? Don’t be surprised if conflict arises within your leadership team. Are you starting up a new ministry? Watch out for unexpected set-backs or opposition. Helping to lead people to Christ? Be prepared for attacks in your personal life.
I don’t mean this to sound alarmist or to deter people from following God’s call in their life. In fact, quite the opposite. If we are able to identify spiritual warfare and call it out for what it is, then we are able to pray for God’s protection and not let the enemy’s attacks divide us from God or from each other.
I once heard a talk by author and speaker Lynn Cowell and she shared how every time she was about to speak in front of a big group, there was a guaranteed attack from the enemy on her family. Whether is was conflict in her house, gossip about her children, or other challenges, it had happened so many times she and her husband began to identify it for what it was. It didn’t necessarily make it less stressful or difficult to face these attacks, but at least by being able to identify and prepare for them, they were able to face them together as a family, instead of letting it divide them, or deter Lynn from her ministry.
I won’t lie, the last few weeks have been a challenge. I thought about cancelling my women’s retreat. I fought with my husband and my kids. I let stress from work tear me down emotionally, and I considered backing out of the mission trip I leave for tomorrow. But in my moments of weakness I was able to discern God’s voice and see what was really happening, and that enabled me to pray for protection and strength.
While the enemy may be capable of humbling me in all the wrong ways — to destroy my will and power — I must remember he does not have the authority over God’s will nor is he a match for the power of God’s protection.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)
God will call you to serve Him in mighty ways, and do things that will humble your heart.
The enemy will try to sabotage God’s plans. But if we remain watchful, remembering that our struggle is not against “flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil,” and put on God’s armor, the enemy will not prevail.
Are you feeling under attack from the enemy? I offer up this prayer for you:
Heavenly Father, no one knows the cunning, hateful ways of the enemy better than you. Satan despises all that you intend for good and he will use any means necessary to try and interrupt your good works. I feel his attack and it has weakened my resolve, brought chaos into my life, and at times caused me to turn away from You and those I love. But You are more powerful than anything he might throw at me. You will not be defeated by his evil schemes. God protect me. Arm me for this battle. Teach me to wear your Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Faith, and Salvation like armor. Show me how to fight, not with my own merits or strength, but with the power of your word and the protection of the Holy Spirit. Amen.