How to overcome low blow tactics from the enemy.
Discouragement is a serious issue. The enemy doesn’t play fair. He loves to take advantage of our weaknesses. I call this a perfect spiritual storm. It’s a low blow tactic, but Satan uses it on a frequent basis. In such cases, how do we find hope?
My battle with discouragement
For the past few years, I’ve struggled with severe knee pain. I tried non-surgical methods: prayer, massage therapy, and all sorts of natural remedies. Nothing worked.
In November, I resigned myself to schedule a knee replacement surgery. This development felt like a loss. I’d been asking God for a healing, and when I didn’t get it, I felt discouraged.
I remember asking, “Lord, what’s Your plan for my knee?” His only answer was a picture where I saw Him bending down and kissing my knee.
Some people might think, Oh, how sweet, but I wasn’t happy. I felt angry that God was comforting me, not healing me.
When my surgery came, I felt emotionally overwhelmed. The only benefit I could think of was what friends had told me earlier that after the first two weeks, you’ll wish you’d done it years earlier.
In my case, the surgery went well, but the recovery has been rough. Last week I asked my surgeon, “When will my knee stop hurting less than before surgery?” He just shrugged and said, “It takes time.”
Battlefield of the mind
The hardest part of this ordeal has been the nagging thought, Why didn’t Jesus heal my knee?
I live and breathe a culture of miracles. I’ve seen people healed of all sorts of issues, including knee pain. Yet, I’m having to limp through a natural healing process of surgery and recovery.
In moments like this, it’s easy to “take the bait” and drown in painful questions like: God, why did I have to get surgery? But if I stay in this place for too long, I end up in a well of discouragement.
What is discouragement?
Discouragement is defined as: “extinguish[ing] the courage of; to dishearten,” and “to depress the spirits of…” It’s a feeling no one wants, yet many of us encounter it every day.
Focusing on God
There are many strategies we can use to overcome discouragement (i.e., reading God’s Word, prayer, worship), but the method I’ve leaned on most is focusing on the nearness of God in my situation.
Whenever I feel physical pain, I release my disappointment at not being healed. I declare: “Father, Your grace is sufficient.”
When I feel angry that God didn’t heal me in my preferred way, I ask Him to forgive me for harboring bitterness. During painful, exhausting nights when I can’t sleep, I remind myself that, “in my weakness, You are strong.”
Another strategy I use is declaring the opposite of how I feel. When I feel discouraged, I proclaim, “Thank You, Jesus, that my surgery went well.” When I feel disappointed that my pain is raging, I say, “I’m grateful, Lord, that the bending of my knee is better than expected.”
Doing these declarations has helped me focus on the positive. Although I begrudgingly started these proclamations, they’ve become second nature. It’s become easier to remind myself that God is with me, even in moments when I feel lost and abandoned.
Banning Liebscher says that if you can’t be thankful for what God is doing, be thankful for who He’s turning you into. Not all seasons are fun, but they are all for His glory.
Yvonne Martinez, co-leader of the Transformation Center, teaches, “there’s a difference between expectancy and expectation. Expectation limits our hope to how we specifically expect His answer to be. It holds us hostage to only one grateful expected outcome. Expectancy allows us to keep our faith in Whom He is rather than how He manifests His nature in our lives.”
If you’ve held your hope hostage to how God moves in your situation, ask Him to remove any offense. If you’re bitter, repent and ask the Lord to forgive you. Break agreement with expectation, and ask Him to replace it with an expectancy that anything can happen at any moment.
I release joy and peace that passes understanding over you. His Grace really is sufficient!
P.S: if you need some more encouragement for this year, check out my sermon, Character of Hope.