Saturday, August 18, 2012

Keeping The Faith Part II

The last article I wrote, was from deep in the Valley of Shadows. Suffering from a debilitating neurological condition, from time to time I find myself succumbing to doubt, despair and confusion. Satan takes that opportunity to fire away with those fiery darts and some of them find their mark.

I am writing this article from within the valley, but now I can see the shadows withdrawing, the sky opening before me and I can hear the trickle of the cool waters and smell the green pastures. I’m not out of the valley yet. But I am close.

As Jesus leads me out of the valley I feel strength returning to my battered spirit. I begin to remember all the things Jesus has freed me from. I regain that peace, that confidence, that rest that comes with knowing the true and living God.

Before I came to Christ many years ago, I was a dedicated atheist. Carl Sagan was my savior and his book, Cosmos, was my doctrine. But this little voice kept telling me there was more. Finally I decided to silence that little voice by proving to myself beyond any doubt that the Bible was just myth and legend. Instead, I found salvation in the arms of Jesus Christ. That was before I became ill. Since then Jesus has sustained me throughout my health crisis. I cannot imagine how I would have dealt with it without Him.

While Christ has brought forth the fruit of change within me, temperance for drunkenness, peace for rage, love for hate, devotion for apathy, faith for faithlessness, when I am in the Valley of Shadows, satan is able to obscure my sight of those good things while focusing my eyes on those areas where I still fail.

While in the valley, I feel fear, and doubt and depression and begin to question God. The result is that satan is able to manipulate me into questioning my own salvation. He uses God’s very word against me just as he did with Jesus in the wilderness. He will use 1st John, 4:18 to make me ashamed of my fear (He who fears has not been perfected in love.) or 2nd Titus, 1:7 to make me question bouts of anxiety and depression, (For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.)

I that the feelings of fear, doubt, anxiety are normal for everyone and even more so for the chronically ill. Nevertheless there are times when such doubts truly haunt me. As I said in my previous article, it is at these times that it comes down to sheer endurance. Just keeping the faith. In the end it is the Holy Spirit and God’s word, the Bible, which sustain me.

The following verses bring me comfort:

Heb_13:5  Let your way of life be without the love of money, and be content with such things as you have, for He has said, "Not at all will I leave you, not at all will I forsake you, never!" – And He never has.

2Co_1:8  For, brothers, we would not have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength; so much so that we despaired even of life. – Even Paul despaired.

Rom_5:1  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Even when you can do nothing else, just keeping the faith is enough.

1 Timothy 2:4, "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." – Even Me!

My battles with the shadows is not over, for our warfare is spiritual, not carnal (Eph, 6:12). In the valley sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the truth, but, as I emerge into the light it is brought to my mind that in Jesus Christ I already have victory!

1John 5:4  For everything that has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.

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