When you’re single, it’s easy to feel alone. We try our best to fill those gaps of loneliness with fellowship, family, hobbies, and any number of things that the world has to offer us. Some of those things are beneficial, like spending time nurturing your friendships or relationships with family. Other things are not beneficial and can lead you down a dark road that the enemy will ultimately use to try and steer you away from God.
While some people use a series of relationships to help fill that emptiness, I have traditionally tried to fill that hole with my friends, family, and my dogs. Many people see dogs as pets, but I’ve always seen mine more as children, or at least immediate family members. So when I my beloved 14 year old pug, Otis, passed over the rainbow bridge earlier this year, it was a hard blow to say the least. I’ve had a difficult time moving on since May, but I have since been blessed to be the adoptive pet parent to a sweet girl who has helped my broken heart to begin to mend.
After Otis died, I had a hard time not feeling alone. Not just that he wasn’t physically with me anymore, although that was very difficult to process, but I also felt alone in the sense that nobody really understood what I was feeling (even though several friends and family members knew exactly what I was feeling). Rather than find comfort in the shared experience of my friends and family and finding it difficult to depend on God in my moment of need, something inside of me was listening more to the voices that said “he was just a dog” or “why are you so upset about it?” Those voices were mostly coming from inside my own head. And it took me a while to realize that they were actually thoughts influenced by the enemy in an attempt to derail me.
While I’ve suffered with anxiety for my entire life, I’d never known what it was like to have a real depressive episode where all hope for anything was completely lost until this past summer. Sure, for the most part my depressive episodes are likely both situationally tied to the loss of my dog and biologically tied to a chemical imbalance in my brain, but there are times when I can feel the heavier influence that it’s more than that. The hope that I once had in God and Jesus, was just gone. I wanted nothing more than to just not feel anything anymore.
The thing that I realized is that the chemical imbalance tells me that to believe there’s hope for the future is silly and naive, but the enemy tells me that all hope is lost and completely useless because God can’t fill that need for me. The situation of losing my dog leads me to feel alone, but when I was denied an adoption opportunity for another dog a few months later, the enemy is the one who twisted the situation into my believing that I am unfit and all of the dogs in need would be better without me, the world would just be better off if I didn’t even try. The depression tells me that the situation is hopeless, but the enemy tells me that I’M hopeless.
While you may not have experienced outright depression, we have all felt a little hopeless at one point or another. Whether it’s the hopelessness that you’ll ever find a spouse, a new job, or lose weight, we’ve all struggled with something. The important thing to remember is that God is ALWAYS with us. Even when you don’t feel His presence, He is always there watching over you and it’s important that we arm ourselves with His weapons in order to combat the lies that the enemy feeds us in order to draw us away from the loving arms of our heavenly Father.
Ephesians 6:10-18 describes God’s armor in detail and Paul tells us what each of piece of armor is used for.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his great power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks. Our fight is not against people on earth, but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world. That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight you will still be standing. So stand strong with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest [some translations say the breastplate of righteousness]. On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One. Accept God’s salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people.”Ephesians 6:10-18 NCV
I will explore each piece of God’s armor that is given to us through Jesus to help us combat and deflect the influences of the enemy in future posts. For today, I want to leave you with this bit of hope in an often hopeless world: we can be strong in the Lord (as Ephesians 6 tells us to) because Jesus has helped to make us right with God. Because of the love of Jesus, we have access to God with no strings attached. God made a way for us to be with Him always so we will always have His great power through Jesus and His Holy Spirit to help us while on this earthly journey. So don’t give up hope completely my dear friends, because God is out there fighting for you and He’s given us the armor we need to fight alongside Him. We just need to be willing to accept it!
Stay tuned for more posts about the Armor of God and how you can access the tools needed to fight off the enemy as we continue in this series!