Hope Found in the Battle
By Gabrielle E. Mizner Morgano, Guest Blogger, Asher Family Foundation
I believe that every person on the planet has a weakness. There is a component to every human heart that plays home to emotional vulnerability, sin, and deep-rooted struggle of some kind. We all wrestle with our individual heartaches, shortcomings, and flawed character traits in some manner, and some people live amidst the tension of their defects more so than others. Whether our pain and imperfections manifest themselves in the form of addiction, depression, anxiety, seemingly uncontrollable worry, sarcasm, pride, or bitterness, there is not a soul alive on the earth that is an exception to experiencing some form of self-annoyance or self-loathing.
For me, as long as I can remember, my greatest mental battle has been wrestling with the ghosts of my past. I’ve realized over time that I have certain circumstantial catalysts that usher me into this unwanted, psychological warfare. For instance, recollections of past memories by a friend, that are completely innocent and happy, have the potential to lead my heart and mind into a spiral of recalling negative memories and moments. I will torture myself over things that I’ve done or said that I will never be able to change. I’ve found that looking at certain pictures can sometimes be dangerous and painful for me, as well. I will look at a face in a photograph and wonder why I said that snarky comment to her when I was 16 years old, or why I neglected to invest more time with a certain friend while in college. My mind can become so easily entrenched in a web of lies that I tell myself. “You’re not an attractive woman. Your life holds little value. Your past is too evil and damaged to be forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The words you spoke to that friend in high school will never be forgiven, and you’re a terrible person for saying what you did. Everyone knows about the shameful things you’ve done. Everybody hates who you are.” I believe these lies so easily, and I mentally crumble under the weight of my self-criticism and sin. I begin to fall prey to the false truths of an enemy that is so very real – an enemy that wants nothing more than to see my mind, life, and faith collapse under the sin and pressures of the broken world we live in.
The Scriptures tell us that Satan is our enemy (1 Peter 5). While in ministry on the earth, Jesus spoke of Satan as the “father of lies,” and He said that there is absolutely no truth that exists in his being (John 8:44). At the beginnings of the earth, sin first entered into the world when Satan whispered lies to Eve.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked… (” Genesis 3: 1-7b NKJV, emphasis mine).
Adam and Eve were deceived into sin by a very real and evil force that Jesus refers to as the “ruler of this world” (John 14:30). Much like this brother and sister before us, we are so easily swindled into having our minds warped by the lies of the Devil.
We become slaves to his scheming by believing we have to settle for what the world offers as it’s “best.” We believe that we will never be set free from our worries or fears, that we will always be angry or jealous, or that we can never be truly loved for who we are. But friends – there is hope.
It wasn’t until I was a newlywed that I began to read my bible intimately and at length. I felt drawn into the presence of God through His word, and I sought refuge within the holy pages. I made the time to read every single day, and my life was flipped upside-down as the Holy Spirit began to impress the truths of God upon my heart. As the David Crowder Band plays in their song “How He Loves”, I felt as though I was “bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy” as I started to fully grasp what it means to be loved by the Lord God Almighty.
Jesus Christ came to earth (John 1:14). He is God’s Son, both deity and fully human in every single way (Hebrews 2). He was tempted in the same ways we are by Satan – yet He never once succumbed to sin of any kind (Hebrews 2). He died a sacrificial death on the cross, taking our place to pay our ransom for the sins we commit, and He reconciled us to God the Father (Hebrews 9:12). He rose from the dead three days later, and He conquered the grave, hell, and our enslavement to sin – once and for all (1 Peter 1:3). He promises to save anyone that comes to God by believing in and following Him (Hebrews 7:25). On that cross thousands of years ago, Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished” as He breathed His last (John 19:30). These words are EVERYTHING.
Because of His death on the cross and resurrection, Jesus now holds the “keys” of death and hell (Revelation 1:18). Satan, as real, vicious, and cunning as he is, has absolutely no authority over the powers, might, and love of Christ (Hebrews 2:14). Friends, we all struggle. Each of us has a battle – whether it is a physical fight with an illness, mental or emotional warfare within our own minds, financial insecurities, relational tensions, or brawling with the whispers, temptations, and lies of Satan. God never promised us an easy road as we learn to navigate through life. In fact, hardship and suffering are to be expected for those who believe in the promises of Jesus. Christ said, “…in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV). Those who are in Christ will indeed suffer throughout life here on this fleeting earth, but the Lord promises to fortify us. Placing our hope in Him makes us “strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10). I am on the frontlines of my own war that rages in my mind and heart, yet I will stand firm in my faith in the Almighty Jesus Christ. As the Enemy “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8), I pray that we would all seek refuge in the God who is love (1 John 4:8).
We are wildly imperfect human beings who are desperately searching for love, for hope, and for peace. All of these things and so much more are found in Jesus Christ. I know that my inherently sinful heart and flesh will fail. I will never achieve perfection in any aspect of my life. Nevertheless, “God is the strength of my heart,” and I know who I am (Psalm 73:26). Yes, I am a sinner. I have a dark past full of lies, lust, immorality, jealousy, bitterness, and idolatry. I have hurt people terribly, and I’ve been hurt terribly, myself. I’ve said things that I wish I could erase from existence. I have insecurities that I’m embarrassed to speak about. I am extremely hard on myself, and I often find myself expecting perfection in my life. I wrestle with the demons of my past as they taunt and tease me about the rottenness of yesterday. But, more than anything, I am forgiven. I am made new in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). I am fully loved, completely known, and I’m absolutely free from the bondage to my sin and to the Enemy that I was once living under. Jesus has this incredible power to set you free. Whatever you’re seeking, whatever you’re battling, whatever you’re hungry for – lay these things down before the throne of God today. Life begins with the name of Jesus.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39 NKJV
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