During the months of March and April, most of us were in shock. Life as we knew it came screeching to a halt and we found ourselves on house arrest. TVs blared “stay home stay safe” commercials. Empty grocery store shelves confirmed our panic. What in the world was going on?
In May, things started to loosen a bit. It wasn’t like before and we started wondering–would it ever be like before? But we could get out and about a bit and store shelves started filling up. We were still uneasy but most of us were trying to accept things at face value and resume a more normal way of life.
But then, at the end of May, there was the Floyd incident. And, at that time, all of us should have recognized that something fishy was going on with the virus narrative. I say this because, suddenly, social distancing and masks didn’t matter. The protests overrode these mandates and even our governor here in Pennsylvania walked in the protests and disobeyed his own mandate.
Other things started coming to light, as well: Things such as several states sending Covid patients back into nursing homes; skewed data practices; the encouragement of snitching. I have heard dozens of stories, both personal and through other avenues, that show the inconsistencies and outright lying of the press.
And then, as if to confirm all we were starting to wonder, social media started censoring anything it didn’t deem “appropriate”, which was any voice that was dissenting against the virus narrative.
At this point, most of us realized that it wasn’t about a virus at all. Oh, we knew there was a virus, but the lockdown itself had a far broader and deeper agenda.
During these last four months, we’ve been on a roller coaster ride of hopes and dashed hopes. We wonder what the future holds and, those of us who hold to a literal Revelation, wonder how this all will play into the end. It is very clear that it will. We are just not exactly sure how.
In the midst of our world changing so much, in the midst of losing a lot of the freedom that we thought we had, in the midst of uncertainty hanging over our heads, we simply can not allow our spirits to be crushed.
Isn’t that the temptation for many of us?
A crushed spirit feels unmotivated. It wonders “why bother?”
A crushed spirit feels disheartened and lacks joy.
A crushed spirit doesn’t look people in the eye and rarely smiles in public.
A crushed spirit focuses on self.
A crushed spirit worries and frets about the future.
A crushed spirit quietly succumbs and gives in.
The powers-that-be want to crush our spirits. People with crushed spirits are much easier to control. I have been reading a book about the Soviet Union during the Revolution and the years following and the similarities are eerily similar. You can almost see communism snaking its way into this once strong nation. You can see the crushing of the spirit of not only individuals but of a nation.
But here’s the thing– as Christians, our spirits should be uncrushable.
Of course, this is all a learning process for many of us, isn’t it? How do we, as believers, keep our spirits alive and hopeful? How do we guard against dejection and despair?
Well, the Bible has a thing or two to say about that. I won’t touch on it all, but I thought I’d mention a few things that I’ve been considering recently.
1. Keep our eyes focused in the right direction.
First, we must keep our mind on God. Isaiah 26:3 puts it like this–
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Second, we must stay focused on eternity, rather than temporal things. Colossians 3:1-2 makes this very clear–
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
When our minds are on God and what He has promised us in the future, the things of this present time will fade in their significance. It doesn’t take away problems but rather lessens their importance, in light of Who God is and what awaits us in eternity.
2. Submit to God and resist the devil.
I have been thinking a lot about this. I can’t think of a better time that Satan and his minions would want to crush the spirits of Christians. There are a lot of people questioning what’s going on. There are so many in despair. Many are desperately hurting. If Satan can keep Christians looking the same way as the rest of the world, he has done his job. If we are also in despair, then we have nothing to offer to someone who is lost, do we? We are rendered utterly ineffective for God when we allow ourselves to be controlled by worry, fear, and despair.
And we are so susceptible to Satan’s spiritual attacks. He roars about like a lion, seeking to devour us (I Peter 5:8). This is in the Bible and not some made-up gobbledygook.
But James gives us our best defense against Satanic attacks in a short verse in chapter 4 (vs. 7)–
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
We have the capability to make Satan flee from us.
But it’s only through submitting to God first and then actively resisting the devil.
So let’s unpack that a bit. How do we do this exactly? It’s actually simpler than you may think.
First, we must submit to God’s will in all situations. Including the one that we all are currently in. We must accept it joyfully and choose contentment. This is the first step.
The second step is that we must evaluate our lives for sin. Have we left habitual sin creep into a corner of our lives and given Satan a right to be there?
When I feel under spiritual attack, I ask God these two questions–
Would you please show me any area I have not submitted to You?
Would you please show me any sin in my life that needs to be eradicated?
If I long to cling to my rebellion or sin, I ask Him to help me to want to give these things up. It’s not always instant but God works in a heart that longs to please Him. A great cause for gladness to any believer!
3. Abhor Evil, Love Others, and Serve the Lord.
Romans 12, beginning in verse 9, is a great description of the Christian life. If we follow Paul’s instructions here, we will not have time to be fretting and caught up in despair. We will be busy living a godly life, no matter what our circumstances–
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient[c] in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given[d] to hospitality.
Read that paragraph again and reflect on all that we are instructed to do in the verses. Keep in mind that it gives no caveat for when things aren’t going as we want them to or life turns upside down. It gives no exception clause for when we just don’t feel like doing these things.
4. Remember What Matters.
If you are a believer, then you have been saved from eternal hell through faith in Jesus Christ. When we consider eternity in hell and the greatness of God’s sacrifice, we inevitably turn towards the cross with a heart full of gratitude. We are saved! In the midst of all the uncertainty and discouragement, let’s not forget the greatest miracle of all: WE ARE SAVED!
So there are four fairly simple things we can do to keep our spirit from being crushed. Please note that I didn’t use the word “easy.”
Some of you don’t need this post today. Probably many of you don’t. But for those of you who have struggled (and I know there are some of you because you’ve told me), I write this for you. This post reflects some of the process I’ve been working out in my own life over these past few months and I hope that it is an encouragement to you.
Of all people, we should be the most jubilant and joyful! May we remember this, in spite of all that is going on in the world around us!