There is a principle that is crucial to understand if you wish to endure a difficult season victoriously—and that is to realize that you are in a spiritual battle. In Ephesians 6:12, the apostle Paul affirms, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” That is, the reason the disheartenment strikes so deep within you is because there is a dangerous enemy striking at the very core of your personhood. How does he do so? Through what you think and believe (2 Cor 10:4-5).
I can recall experiencing one of the enemy’s spiritual attacks as a pastor at my first church, Fruitland Baptist, just outside Hendersonville, North Carolina. I had just graduated from seminary, and I poured my heart into developing my messages—I studied and prayed over every sermon as if it were the only one I would ever preach. Of course, we only had a handful of members in those days, and during those cold North Carolina winters, even fewer people would show up to the services. So when I would stand behind the pulpit and see those empty pews, the devil would take the opportunity to dishearten me, “Look at that. What a waste of time—all that preparation and nobody’s here. It appears that no one wants to hear you preach. Well, what did you expect, anyway? God can’t use you.” Discouraging thoughts kept rushing into my mind, and I knew they weren’t from the Father.
So I would pray and God’s still small voice would comfort me, “Charles, this isn’t all there is. You do your best every Sunday. Study diligently and seek My face for every sermon. Just wait upon Me, trust Me, and see what happens.” Don’t you know, that’s just what I did. And I can truthfully and gratefully say that He has done vastly more on my behalf than I could have ever dreamed.
However, what is important for you to recognize is that the enemy will attempt to discourage you as well. And, friend, there is no more effective time for him to torment you than when you are waiting on God. I warn you of this because it is so easy to believe him and lose heart. His attacks are especially brutal. He knows exactly how to pinpoint the most painful, vulnerable places in your life: the areas of fear, insecurity, rejection, anger, bitterness, pride, and guilt that so readily lead you to despair.
Thankfully, Jesus showed us how to guard ourselves against the enemy’s attacks in Matthew 4. He did not argue with the devil, defend Himself, or engage in a discussion. Rather, the Savior confronted Satan’s lies with the truth of Scripture.
When the tempter said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (v. 3), he was enticing Christ to misuse His power for selfish purposes. But Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’ ” (v. 4).
When the devil had the Savior stand on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down” (v. 5), he was trying to persuade Christ to attract followers by performing sensational miracles. But Jesus cited Deuteronomy 6:16, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (v. 7).
And when Satan showed Christ all the kingdoms of the world and said, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me” (vv. 8–9), he was tempting the Savior to circumvent the crucifixion. But Jesus repelled his attack by stating Deuteronomy 6:13, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (v. 10).
Friend, you will spare yourself untold heartache if you realize the negative thoughts that dishearten you are the fiery darts of a spiritual attack and that you can stop them with Scripture. God’s Word is your principal weapon in enduring the dark moments of your life courageously and triumphantly (Eph. 6:16-17).
This article has been adapted from Charles F. Stanley's Waiting on God.