Encouraging others about their worth and forgiveness in Christ can be easy for me….but trying to encourage myself, now that can be difficult at times. It seems that in my darkest moments of guilt, shame and discouragement, there are times when I can’t push through my feelings enough to believe what the Bible says about me if I am in Christ. When others are struggling, I have words of purpose, words of proclamation, words of life…and I know that what I am telling that person is true. I know it because of what I have read in the Bible. I know that God is gracious. I know that God is forgiving. I know that God is sympathetic. I know that God loves without conditions. I know that nothing can separate us from God. I know all these things. But all too often, what I know is overridden by what I feel about myself. What I know becomes foggy and hazy in the shadows of my own sin. In the shadows of what I did. In the shadows of what I thought. I can’t get past it. I tell myself that God expects more out of me. That I should know better by now. That my grace period is running out.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever had such blasphemous thoughts cloud your vision of just how much God really does love and adore you? Maybe it’s just me, but in my weakness and vulnerability I can let the enemy win sometimes when it comes to fighting against guilt or weakness. And I know that this isn’t what God wants for me. He doesn’t want that for you either. God wants us to be confident in who we are in Christ…so much so that we get to the point where the devil can say anything to us, and we still won’t believe him. That is where I hope to be…and I want that for you too.
In getting there, I have discovered that my issue with believing the enemy’s lies about myself comes from elevating my feelings over my knowledge of God’s goodness. Letting my feelings be elevated over the goodness of God always puts emphasis on “me” rather than on God. I make “me” the idol by thinking it is up to me to fix my situation. And that never turns out well. We must elevate God back up to His rightful position of Lord over our lives –and that means, Lord over our feelings too. If we don’t, we will remain hampered under the restraint of what we feel about ourselves, rather than trusting in what we know is true because of what the Bible says.
If I let how I feel override what I know is true – that I am loved, forgiven and chosen in Christ – I will never fulfill His calling for me, and neither will you. We have to rewire our brains to let what we know is true override how we feel.
So how do we rewire our brains to let what we know is true override how we feel? Well, it’s kind of like muscle memory. In softball, a pitcher throws thousands and thousands of pitches until that throwing motion is permanent and the number of wild pitches start to lower. It takes practice day in and day out. And it takes focus and determination. You have to really want it. You make yourself do it until the new throwing motion becomes so natural you don’t have to think about it. After that motion has been established, a pitcher will be throwing almost mechanically because of the muscle memory formed in the arm and body. We do the same things with the thoughts in our brain. We can’t get rid of destructive thoughts altogether, but we can replace them with a new motion…a new thought process…meditating on God’s truth. Just as a pitcher’s wild pitches start to lower with the development of the correct throwing motion, so our negative thoughts start to lower with the replacement of a new thought process.
It may take weeks, months, even years until those thoughts become permanent in our minds. But eventually it will be natural to think with a new mind that is full of God’s truth. Any attack of shame, guilt, despair or discouragement will be feeble compared to our new instinct to recall God’s truth and let that be the final say on the matter. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul tells us that we can “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” We have this ability! So in Christ, we already have control to rewire our thought patterns. And as we do so, the muscle memory of meditating on God’s truth will help us to naturally kick out the negative thoughts that war in our mind.
I’m realizing that I don’t need to feel as if I’m forgiven and loved in order to be forgiven and loved. I just need to cling to what I know. I need to let my heart catch up to my head. I need to let my feelings catch up to my knowledge. Not the other way around. Clinging to what I know – which is based upon what scripture says – will eventually rub off on the way that I feel. We have to train our minds to cling to truth even in the midst of almost not believing it. Let me say that again, we need to cling to truth even in the midst of almost not believing in it. Because in that process is where the permanence forms… and we must be patient with ourselves while in the midst of it.
Yes, we keep clinging to truth because we know that our feelings cannot be trusted. But the truth of God’s word can always be trusted.
We may feel like a failure. But we know that we’re not. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that “His power is made perfect in weakness.” Our weakness is not a threat to God. We may feel like we’re unloved by God. But we know this isn’t true. The Bible says in Romans 8:38 that “[nothing] will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” He will never give up on loving us. We may feel like we’ve wasted time. But we know that we haven’t. The Bible says in Joel 2:25, “I will restore the years that the swarming locusts ate…” God is not limited by where you’re at in life.
Trust in what He says! It can be so easy to think…well, that’s a word for somebody else but not for me. But it is for you! And is for me! God has a word of encouragement for you and I that He desperately wants us to hear if we would listen. Read your Bible and know that it is true. Cling to it. It only takes a few minutes a day of reading your Bible, thanking God for who His, praising Him in worship, or writing it in down in a journal, to be filled with the Spirit and renewed in Christ’s joy. We can’t forget to take that time.
Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong Church says this, “Never take your spiritual life for granted, because you will lose your strength and become weak.” And it is so true. We must continue day in and day out reading the Word of God, letting it form muscle memory in our minds, so that new instincts are formed and we remember God’s truth above all else.
Together, let’s increase our confidence in the God who is destroying strongholds in our minds, allowing us to live in the freedom of His overflowing grace, mercy and love. Then, we will be empowered to defeat the lies of the enemy and help others to do the same.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
you are mine.
I will be with you when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through fire,
and the flame will not burn you.”
–Isaiah 43:1b-2 –
Questions for Today:
- Where am I struggling to believe the truths that God has spoken over me?
- What can I do to rewire my mind to meditate on God’s truth?
- How can I elevate God to the place of Lord in my life?
- What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my walk with Him today?
“You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Worship ft Amanda Cook