I'm sending this out, asking for prayer. I also believe that I'm not the only one that needs to be reminded of God's truth in this area and therefore pray for faithfulness on the part of all of God's people.
A couple days ago, I was hit hard with all sorts of negative thoughts: "You're a loser!" and "You should just give up!". Now, there were all sorts of good reasons behind both of those statements, and the accusations hit me hard. They were reinforced by the various circumstances throughout the day, and it's really easy to seek forgetfulness when that happens... to forget Whose we are... to forget to expect God's grace and power... to forget the WHOLE truth. But sometimes you know you're on the right path by the resistance you feel along the way.
Maybe that's how the early church found it such a joy to suffer for Christ's sake. They realized the oppression, the resistance, was an indication that they were on the right path. They sought God's direction and then went down paths that contradicted the conventional wisdom of the day. They refused to lean on their own understanding, and led by the Holy Comforter, they took a step out of the boat and onto unfamiliar waters.
And as they set out on that path, they encountered the Discourager of men, the Accuser. They met resistance: spiritually, physically and emotionally.
A couple days ago, that discouragement had me pinned. The accusations were based in truth and I felt hopeless. I could see the many mistakes that I've made along the way, and I heard the Accuser saying repeatedly: "Loser! Quit! Your God has abandoned you!"
I felt the resistance along the way.
I did something right, and turned to God. I prayed desperately, needing His encouragement.
In martial arts, when two competitors are grappling, they will try to constrict the breathing of their opponent. They will put a hand over the mouth, making breathing difficult but not impossible. The Enemy tries to keep us from breathing, too. He tries to keep us from feeling God's Presence. He'll offer something to take us off the path ("just for the moment"). And he'll also, in a way I don't understand, keep God's answer from coming to us right away. (Daniel's answer was delayed for 3 weeks! See Daniel 10)
When God's answer came back to me, I was able to "...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor 10:5)
The truth is, I can only be a loser if I quit. "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." (Phil 4:13) and with God's grace, I will persevere! "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)