May 1, 2017

Dear Esther,

I’ve been a born-again Christian for several years now. I’ve read my Bible 14 times cover to cover and I study God’s Word as much as possible every day (I know the Word of God and believe the truth with ALL my heart). I research Jesus on the Internet to gain as much knowledge as possible. I pray and talk to Jesus constantly all day and night…I’ve become obsessed.

My family and friends have noticed a huge change in me and they think I’ve gone off the deep end with my faith…They’ve gone as far as to make fun of me (as if it’s all make believe). Why do people react this way? Jesus is real! the Bible is the real Word of God! Yet people shut down when His Name is mentioned. I can never talk to them about the Rapture because they don’t understand or believe it’s going to happen someday. I feel alone in my faith (with a few exceptions).

I’ve become so involved with reading that it has affected my everyday life. So I decided to read only a couple hours on the weekends. I know I’m saved from the moment I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and acknowledged that I am a sinner in need of a Savior (I have no doubts). I needed Him more than ever at that time and now as well.

My life was pretty much all in order and lived fairly comfortably, even though I’m divorced. But ever since I accepted Jesus, I’ve lost my job a couple times, my income has been cut, I lost my home, savings and retirement is down to almost nothing. My father, brother and several close friends have passed away within a couple years (very unexpected). I trust God is in control, but my life has spiraled. I wonder sometimes where is He? I know we suffer here on earth. To me it seems life is not that fun or exciting anymore.

I love Jesus with all my heart, soul and mind. I have no plans on falling away. I read Rapture Ready faithfully and I look forward to your encouraging words. Your column is my first stop on the site.

My friends think I’m using my faith as a crutch to help relieve life’s pains. I don’t feel that way but I do feel more sad than I used to for whatever reason. My question is this: Why (after accepting Jesus into my life) has so much happened to me and my family? I know we suffer here on earth. Life feels different; more gloomy than not.

When I pray, I don’t feel like rejoicing anymore, I feel like crying. I’ve talked to others about this and they say sometimes they feel the same. Is this normal? Am I supposed to feel sad? Will God answer my deepest desires to be happy and make a difference to others? Will God restore my lot in life for the better? I was hoping you could give me some very welcoming words of encouragement.

Thanks Esther,

Paul S.

 

Dear Paul,

No doubt you are committed to the Lord and love Him with all your heart. As far as those who make fun of your all-out commitment to the Lord or consider it a crutch, rest assured; that kind of response is a common reaction from the unsaved. (Sadly, they will live to regret it.)

This Scripture describes such people: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Sometimes when we take a true leap of faith life can get worse before it gets better. Suddenly those we thought we could count on become negative forces in our lives because we are no longer living in the world the way they are. We receive Christ but others reject Him and therein lies the problem.

As believers we can sometimes be bombarded with one challenge after another with seemingly no end in sight. After we are saved and the Lord opens our eyes to the futility of this godless world, we must shift gears and understand we are here temporarily and that this is not our true home. Our perspective on this life has to really change in order to cope and deal with negative onslaughts that can come our way.

When we are seriously walking with the Lord as you are, we become much more aware of the frivolity of this life and the downright evil in this world. If we are serious about our faith the more aware we become of the sinister and dark forces, the more overwhelmed we can feel if we are not looking at the entire picture from an eternal perspective.

The sadness you mention relates to what I just described. It also doesn’t help being mocked by friends and family for our faith; of course that makes us sad. When we see the filth and depravity of mankind in this fallen world we also feel sadness. When we are in the midst of one of life’s storms and no longer feel joyful and our hope is challenged, it hurts so much. But that is the time to take life one moment at a time and continue giving all our concerns to the Lord.

We cannot always understand why life around us seems to be falling apart but we can be sure that God is working things together for our good (Romans 8:28). We must not allow doubt and the devil’s assaults to take away our joy. We must believe in God’s promises, for He is faithful.

When we have an eternal perspective and know that we are covered by Christ’s blood sacrifice and pray with complete faith knowing that our great and mighty Creator is working on our behalf (regardless of the outward circumstances), things will get better. We serve a God of restoration and hope. Surely His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives (Psalm 23:6).

Paul, you know the Bible tells us that the devil is “the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2b). He roams the earth like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). But the believer can count on the Lord and not allow the enemy to take away God’s promises:

“The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8b).

You must hold on to your faith knowing the truth and reject the lies of the devil who works to destroy us and incapacitate us:

“We [believers] know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:19-20).

Jesus cautioned us about Satan—the devil, to be aware of his absolute wickedness:

“He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44b).

And you know we are living in a spiritual battlefield and the enemy is very cunning and powerful. It is imperative to put on God’s spiritual armor every day. The devil would like the Lord’s faithful to believe God has abandoned us, but that is simply not true,

“Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. And take on the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:11, 17).

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” ( 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4).

Consider that Satan tried to overthrow God’s throne. He became his own god, worshipping himself rather than the true God of the universe. God’s response was to cast him from heaven down to earth. Ever since that time there has been an enormous struggle going on between good and evil, between God and Satan.

Arrogance, pride and brazen self-aggrandizing are all traits that took Satan out of God’s good graces. Satan took advantage of the power God initially gave him and used it against Him. Since then, the devil has stopped at nothing to try to usurp the King of the universe. He wants to destroy God’s creations (you and me), and cause havoc and heartache any way he can.

The devil, through the enticements of this world is trying to cleverly persuade everyone into thinking there is no need for the Savior. The devil only wants to hurt us, to rob us of our chance to have eternal freedom and life in Christ. He is playing a deadly game with a loaded gun aimed directly at each man, woman and child—never hesitating to pull the trigger.

Unless we are reconciled with Christ we are all in full firing-range of the devil and his loaded gun. When we choose salvation in Christ (as you have) the devil is disarmed and we are made permanently victorious—our eternal destiny is shielded from any bullets he fires. So remember that! You are victorious in Christ and you have succeeded in this life. Your salvation in Christ is your success.

“You are of God little children, and have overcome them [the devil and his influences] because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

You could have huge sums of money and a smile on your face (as so many do) and be totally deceived into thinking the “fun” and social “pleasures” of this world are what life is all about. (That is until you take your last breath and your money is useless and you find yourself eternally separated from God.)

Jesus is our faithful Messiah. Only the Lord can make a way where there seems to be no way. Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). He will never forsake you or leave you. I can attest to that from personal experience many times over. God has intervened in my life many times but in His own good time and not mine. We must have patience and keep trusting that the Lord is working in our lives. Praise Him even when you are hurting. He understands suffering like no one else.

Sometimes God Almighty is molding us so we will gain more strength from Him; to become totally dependent on Him. And when the storm is behind us, we can without a doubt know that it was He who brought us through the rough terrain and opened up new avenues of living.

“And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Guarding against becoming an easy target for the spiritual attacks and chicanery of the devil is a necessity in this world. Any believer can be demonically attacked, especially when doing important work for the Lord. But when we arm ourselves with the Word of God and prayer, and have a genuinely strong relationship and commitment to the Lord, the devil will flee (James 4:7).

Although, as you are finding out, tough spiritual battles (tests) can happen even when we are strong believers with hearts faithfully focused on the Lord; especially when we are working to witness for Christ and expose the devil and his wicked schemes. God will allow devoted believers to go through some harrowing trials to strengthen our faith, compelling us to place our complete trust in Him (James 1:2, 12).

When we are going through a dark valley it can seem harsh to read in Scripture that we should not be anxious about anything and that we should give thanks in ALL circumstances; but that is what we are admonished to do:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

“Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

Scripture also teaches that when we pray we must pray in faith:

“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).

Paul, your breakthrough and light at the end of the tunnel could come at any time. God has not abandoned you. Place your focus on the blessings you do have and remember that God’s grace is sufficient for every need.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God has a plan for your life and that plan is to serve Him. You know it is not about what we get from the Lord but what we give Him. In our faithfulness and giving, our own needs are met. Use your God-given gifts wisely. Don’t allow the naysayers to pull you down. Be positive and reject vain babblings that serve to undermine you.

Jesus lived a very simple life, yet in this world the mantra is: “The more stuff, the better.” That kind of thinking can ruin anyone. Believe and know that your life is in God’s hands. Continue to be faithful and believe Him when he says:

“’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Paul, when doubts and negative thoughts creep into your mind, you must reject them. Replace your thoughts with the glory of God and your life will get better. And resolve in your heart and mind to be of good cheer by concentrating on your victory in Christ. God has overcome the world! (John 16:33).

“A cheerful heart is a good medicine; but a broken spirit drieth up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).

It would be good to listen to some traditional hymns and fill your mind with God-honoring music. The hymns will lift your spirits and help you choose joy, despite your circumstances. And be sure to continue reading from your Bible every day. Psalm 91 is a great passage to study often. The Word of God is very powerful. It provides sustenance for our weary souls and draws us closer to the Lord’s comforting presence.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

God bless you and strengthen you, Paul. And be encouraged knowing that one day soon all the heartaches of this life will vanish and we will be with the Lord forever and ever. (Even so come Lord Jesus.)

Let Jesus be your happiness, Paul. Trust that He is working on your behalf to strengthen you; to refine and mold you into being the best you can be for Him. He loves you so very much and He is with you.

Esther

“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).

“For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).