|Ary Scheffer, The Temptation of Christ, 1854|
After coming home from being a missionary for two years, I felt extremely lonely. It was hard for me to find people who could encourage me in my faith and I felt so alone and isolated and frustrated. Did I give up two years of my life for God only to come home and feel like this? What did this mean, God? I realized that because I wasn’t living in a community of people who could encourage my relationship with Jesus, my faith started sliding. I thought God had abandoned me and He couldn’t be trusted.
It wasn’t until years later that I started understanding how the enemy works when he tempts us. He isolates and he whispers lies. And this is nothing new. All the way back in Genesis 3, what did the serpent do? Get Eve alone and whisper lies that God could not be trusted. The evil one’s tactics haven’t changed much since then. The enemy wants to isolate so you’re alone and not surrounded by people who can help you fight. He then twists truths just as he did in the garden.
In Scripture when Jesus was led into the desert to pray for 40 days, I was struck at the calmness with which Jesus refuted the devil’s attacks. Jesus wasn’t anxious or stressed when confronted with the temptations of the devil. When you read how Jesus responded, He calmly refuted each temptation with Scripture — what He knew to be true. That’s the same tactic that we should have. We don’t have to be anxious when we’re in a battle, anxious over the outcome, or even anxious about figuring out a way to combat the lies. We just have to stand our ground, refute the lie or temptation with God’s Truth, and allow the Lord to do the rest.
Recently I’ve been mediating on Ephesians 6 where it talks about how our battle isn’t with flesh and blood but the things we cannot see. In Ephesians, it says that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. That is how I’ve been combating these lies. I’ve been cognizant of where I am in my spiritual life, if I feel like I’m lonely or in isolation, and then try to see what lies come up in my thoughts throughout the day. I’ve been jotting down these lies and asking the Holy Spirit to give me a Bible verse to combat that lie. Every morning during my personal prayer time, I’ll start to memorize those Bible verses and start retraining my brain to believe the truth instead of lies. It literally feels like a battle for my mind. I had an image in prayer a couple of months ago of Jesus laughing as He goes into battle because He knows the battle has been won. There was a realization that even the enemy knows the war has been lost and he’s not even being sneaky about his tactics.
Friends, this is the kind of relationship God is inviting you into: not one of strife but of rest because God does all the heavy lifting. I encourage you today to take a spiritual inventory of your life and honestly assess where you are with God. Does He seem distant and far away? Do you feel isolated and lonely? Do you have people regularly speaking the truth of God into your life? Are there certain lies you believe about yourself, God, your purpose or mission in the world? By taking an honest look, you’re able to invite God into those places, knowing that He is so gentle and kind. He doesn’t force healing, but gently welcomes you into a relationship where His love heals all. Don’t be afraid to go into the desert with Jesus, knowing that the battle has already been won. That is why we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song! He is risen! He has defeated the devil! Alleluia now and forever.
After coming home from being a missionary for two years, I felt extremely lonely.