We all face trials. You’re either going through one now, just got out of one, or about to go through one.
As you saw in my last life update in ‘MJ Minutes,’ I was struggling. Day in and day out I had questions, doubts, fears, anxieties, you name it…I had it.
Here’s a battle plan that I used to shift my gaze from the size of my problems to the size of God.
Recognizing Satan is a Threat: Growing up I always depicted the devil as a little cartoon character that definitely resembles ‘Him’ from The Powerpuff girls. I only thought about him when making a right or wrong decision as the angel and devil would rest upon my shoulders. I never realized how dangerous he is. Do you ever feel like the odds are always stacked against you? Or you’re like Alexander and has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you.”Don’t be surprised to be tried when Satan thinks you are a threat. He knows your potential to crush your flesh and glorify God in it so he wants to stop you. If you realize he will come after you it’s easier to battle.
Worship Music 24/7: No, I’m not exaggerating. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my country music (shout out to WXTU and WGTR), my Eminem, my Disney and Show Tunes…I could go on and on, but you know what I mean. When going through spiritual warfare you need to prepare your heart. Listening to worship music is a way to have a constant reminder of the Lord. Not to mention, Worship music never fails to put me in a good mood. After Peter talks about being tested he also calls us to rejoice in verse 4:13 “But, rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings and be glad when his glory is revealed.” Preparing your heart with worship music is a great way to remember God’s promises and powers, His love for us, and is another way to rejoice in your suffering as we are called. Take Action: Make a Worship playlist on Spotify or find one you really like on Pandora.
Pray: Personally, I try to have a constant dialog with the Lord. It helps sustain a holy mindset throughout the day. Not to mention prayer is so incredibly powerful! The proof is in the Bible! The book of Psalms is a perfect example. It is considered the hymnal of God’s people. There are poems of praise and songs of suffering, but through it all a constant theme we hear about is prayer. In Psalm 17:1 it says: “Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.”Even throughout the New Testament, prayer is a repeated theme. Before Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount He took time by himself to pray. Take Action: Write down your prayers. Journal as they keep evolving. Be aware how God may reveal answers and write down when they are answered! Also, ask others how you can pray for them.
Investing Time in the Word: I know, easier said than done, but hear me out. It doesn’t matter how much time you’re spending but do what you can. Even if it’s just receiving a daily bible verse and praying over it. When I was in a funk I took my inspire Psalms book and read a Psalm a day. It might not sound like a lot because it’s not, but it’s okay. I’ve always had a perfectionist attitude to getting in the Word. I thought if I wasn’t putting in the effort to do a huge daily devotion that it wasn’t worth it…boy was I wrong! In the first Psalm verse 2 it reads “but in his delight is the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.” I kept viewing it as a chore rather than being joyed to start and end my day with the Word of God. Satan wants us to feel like God is far away, but if you are actively pursuing your relationship with Him, He will reveal himself! In Matthew 7:7, Jesus says “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” Take Action: Start small. Read a Psalm or Proverb a day. Read your favorite book in the Bible. Pray for the Lord to set a fire in your heart to grow you and change your heart to crave knowledge. Make your time alone with God a set time and don’t “reschedule your appointment.” Meet with Jesus like you would meet a friend. We need to invest in our relationship to see it flourish.
Understand We are Called to Suffer: As followers of Jesus we are called to suffer. As it says in Philippians 1:29 “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” If you all have not read Philippians I strongly urge you to start there. Paul is writing from prison and has SO much insight on suffering. In Philippians 1:12 it says“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel.” Pause. Y’all. THIS IS HUGE. He is seeing the purpose in his pain and others’ salvation in his suffering. He goes on to say in verse 13-14: “so, that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” I’m on fire y’all. I honestly can’t contain it. These statements are INSANE. He’s saying that because of his pain, others are much more boldly talking about the Gospel. His suffering is served to advance the Gospel. Please tell me you’re as fired up about that! It’s hard during our time of suffering to think of the positives but Paul rocks the house with this example. Take Action: Think of a time you were suffering or went through a traumatic experience. How can you use it to perpetuate the Gospel? How can you bless others with your brokenness? Think about it then do something about it!
Community: This one is especially hard for me. I tend to rely on myself during trying times because I don’t want to be a bother to anyone. But, Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 5:9 that we need to “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” You are not alone in these trials and tribulations. Satan wants us to be separated from community and those who are able to build you back up to your full potential. Not only that but, we fulfill our potential by bearing each other’s burdens in Galatians 6:2 Take Action: Go to church, introduce yourself to someone new or ask for prayer. Call the friend you have that never fails to get you back on track or is always on fire. Don’t isolate yourself. Surround yourself with those who understand.
I pray that this post equips you with more ways to combat spiritual warfare in your life. I pray the Holy Spirit lights a desire in your heart so that you can strive during times of trial. I know it’s difficult, but we weren’t called to have easy lives. We were called to suffer for Jesus. Remember you are not alone. No matter how dark it gets or how hopeless it seems we are all in this together. You were placed here to advance the Gospel and lead others toward Jesus! Now, take action!