On Battling Disappointment, Part 2

Last week I shared about a recent battle with disappointment and a prompting to praise God despite my feelings. If you missed it and want to know the back story, you can read it here. Today I want to share another strategy for battling disappointment that will restore your peace and joy.

Although I’ve experienced this strategy to be super effective in my own life, I’ve never seen the power of praise coupled with it as beautifully as in a scripture I read last week in Psalms:

“May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints.
Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 149:6-9)

Now before I lose you with all this talk of war and vengeance, consider the link between the enemies of God’s people in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Throughout the Old Testament, we see Israel battling other nations and kingdoms, physical nations and kingdoms. In the New Testament, though, we are told that our battle is not against flesh and blood, “but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

They battled physical enemies. We battle spiritual ones. Their weapons were praise and a double-edged sword. Our weapons are praise and the double-edged sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…”

I sure hope I’m not the only one giddy about this fun connection!

Our enemy, the father of all lies, loves to deceive up into disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness, and fear. He whispers lies about God, about us, and about others that threaten to leave us crushed and ready to quit. But we don’t have to walk in this defeat!

Look again at Psalm 149:6-9. Do you want to bind your spiritual enemy with fetters and shackles of iron (v.8)? Do you want to be a co-laborer with Christ to carry out the sentence written against Satan himself (v.9)? You can! All you need is a firm resolve to fight back with praise and your Sword, the Word of God.

You can defeat the father of lies with the Truth!

Here’s an example of what this looks like in action: God will never stop loving me (2 Chronicles 20:21), and no weapon formed against me will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). God protects me from the enemy and lifts up my head. He will answer my prayers (Psalm 3:3-4). God hears my cries and will deliver me from all of my troubles (Psalm 34:17). The Lord longs to be gracious to me and will rise to show me compassion (Isaiah 30:18). The Lord directs my steps, and He is able to work all things together for my good (Psalm 37:23, Romans 8:28). The Lord will provide all of my needs, and He will fill me with peace and joy as I trust Him (Philippians 4:19, Romans 15:13).

If any of those statements especially moved you, I’d encourage you to make a note of the referenced Scripture in your phone or even write it on your hand or an index card. Read it out loud to yourself several times a day, allowing it to transform your thoughts. Don’t be surprised if the enemy comes at you with another lie when one stops working- just search again for truth in His Word and tear down each lie he throws your way.

We CAN walk in victory; that’s a promise!




On Battling Disappointment

It’s been a battle of the will to write lately. I sit down at the computer most every day, but each word typed just doesn’t seem to come out the way I’d wanted. Part of it is the dark cloud that’s been over my mind and heart for several days now- you know, the feeling of apathy mixed with a sense of disappointment that parts of life just haven’t turned out quite the way you’d hoped.

These feelings aren’t new to me; no, this has been the enemy’s strategy many times. Yet I hear the gentle words of the Spirit saying, “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)

Praise. “I will yet praise Him”, the psalmist says. In 2 Chronicles 20, the people of Israel were being attacked by a foreign enemy. Their king appointed men to sing praises to God as their enemy approached, and this is what happened:  “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir [their enemies] who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” (v.22)

As they began to sing and praise. Praise.

I was sitting in church yesterday morning, and I began looking over some of the later Psalms. It dawned on me that they all start with some sort of, “Praise God”. I immediately thought, “I should probably use these to do the praising that I’m feeling called to do during this season.” Later the same day, I get this text from a dear friend, “You have been on my mind today! The last 5 or 6 Psalms in the Bible are of praise. I arm myself with those. Have a good day!” And that- things like that– are the confirmations and mercy of God in our weakness.

As I’m sure anyone that battles emotionally knows, sometimes you worship with your mind, but your feelings just can’t quite seem to get there. And this instance is no different. I sit, writing and saying these Psalms aloud, yet my feelings remain largely the same. Even still, I’m convinced that as I make the choice to obey this prompting despite the way I feel, He will deliver me in His perfect time.

And isn’t that what we’re all asked to do? Wake up each day, put one foot in front of the other, obey each small step He tells us to take, and trust Him with the victory.


The American Church Crisis and a Parent’s Call

There is one question in parenting that has plagued me more than any other. Beyond the basics of *trying to* make sure that my kids are respectful, considerate, well-fed and rested, this one topic is something that has rolled around in my mind since our oldest was in my womb: how do I raise children who have an authentic relationship with God? How do I encourage them towards faith-filled boldness and a humble, undivided heart?

Nothing in parenting is sure. No formula can guarantee our children’s salvation and faithfulness. There are plenty of amazing Christian families with prodigal children; God has all of us in process. But I’m burdened by the sheer number of kids raised in the church that have memorized all the right scriptures and know all the right answers, yet their adult lives are largely unchanged. Some have left the church altogether while others are just showing up and checking the box off of their list of “ought to’s”.

This burden has me asking God: how do we raise a strong generation of men and women that are wholeheartedly committed to You? A generation that trades a churchy mask for a Holy Spirit boldness and love that will change the world. A generation that doesn’t see scripture memory and prayer as a measure of godliness, but as a tool for waging a successful war against the enemy for people’s souls, for our nation’s repentance and salvation.

Dozens of good thoughts, of right thoughts, can answer these questions. But I want to give you one that has continuously come to my attention during my priority times this month in the books of Genesis and Exodus. Even my pastor mentioned it in passing during the sermon Sunday when he said this: “God gives us symbols to remind us of the most meaningful things He has done in our lives.” Not only does God remind us, but He calls us to remind our children using these same symbols.

God told Moses to write about the defeat of the Amalekites on a scroll so that Joshua would remember. He told Aaron to save manna in a jar as a sign for generations to come so that they would remember God’s provision. He commanded the Israelites to consecrate every firstborn so the people would remember God’s deliverance. In the New Testament, He tells us to be baptized and take communion regularly, all to remember Christ’s sacrifice and our new life in him. The examples could go on and on.

God repeatedly uses concrete symbols to remind us of who He is and what He’s done. God understands better than we do our tendency to forget, and this forgetfulness is a spiritual cancer that leads us to either obey out of obligation (legalism) or turn to other things for satisfaction (idolatry). One of His solutions for our memory problem is something tangible that represents His power and faithfulness.

So here’s the practical step I’ve taken: I bought aquarium rocks at PetSmart and paint pens at Hobby Lobby. On the rocks I’ve recorded every significant move of God in our lives that I can remember. They all have key words and/or verses that help me remember prayers answered, lives changed, circumstances redeemed, and/or God’s character revealed. I’ve put the rocks in a bowl on one of our living room tables. In the future when my kids ask me what they are, I can use each rock to tell specific, personal testimonies about a God that is still alive and active today.

Bottom line: There is a gaping divide between the God of the Bible and what most modern-day American churches are actually experiencing. I believe this is the cause of the church’s rapid decline. My hope and prayer is that when the next generation sees personally the mighty hand of God as Deliverer, Redeemer, Healer, Comforter, Bondage-Breaker, and Provider, an unstoppable generation will rise up!