Sometimes life is hard. I am now about 9 days removed from one of the worst days of my life. It was more than I could handle. I truly thought that I was losing my mind. I know, I know, people love to say that God won’t give you more than you can handle. I don’t really know what that means but I can assure you that last week was more than I could handle. It didn’t kill me but in the moment I wished that it would have. It would have been way easier. No, I am not suicidal. No, I did not contemplate suicide. I did ask God why he wouldn’t just take me home now. That would have been easy. Instead I heard nothing. No still small voice. No phone call from an old friend asking how I was doing. No surprise email stating that they felt an overwhelming urge to pray for me and they wanted to see how I was doing. None of that happened. Instead I was left alone to “Deal with it.”
For those of you who do not know, I am currently at language school in Costa Rica. I am learning Spanish so I can become a full-time missionary in a Spanish-speaking country. I love Latin America. Last Tuesday I was studying Spanish and I could not understand the grammar that I was studying. It started out well then I got stumped. At first it was just a learning issue. Time would help me to understand Spanish verbs. Then it turned into more. Then The devil had just found his new punching bag. Lucky me.
The next thing I knew I was ready to break something. I wanted to rip my shirt off but unfortunately or fortunately I only brought 6 t-shirts with me and I could not afford to lose one. I wanted to punch a wall or kick a dog or throw stuff. My struggles with Spanish went from “this is hard” to “oh my goodness the devil is beating the living crap out of me”. Insecurities that I “conquered” 18 years ago came back at me with a vengeance. O yeah, and they brought all their friends this time. I have had bad days before. I have experienced demonic attacks before. I have seen, heard, and felt the voice of God before. I was not ready for this. I was a sobbing little baby. I was a wreck. I snapped at my daughter and that brought a whole new round of attacks. “You are a lousy Dad?” “What kind of A-hole tells his 6-year-old daughter to shut up?” “You should just leave now?” “How can you be a Christian when you are like this?” “Where is your God now?” I got to hear all of that and more. It went on and on and on for about… an eternity (6 hours). It was brutal. My wife must have thought that I was losing my mind – I sure thought so.
I did not know what to do. I prayed, I cried, I studied more. I went and played basketball for a while and sprained my finger. I wanted to get in my car and go for a long drive and chain smoke but I don’t have a car and I don’t smoke. I woke up the next morning and I was sore. Yes, I was physically sore. I was emotionally sore. I had been ran over and over and over again the previous day. I was ready to buy a plane ticket home. I told my wife that I wanted to be a missionary in an English speaking country. I told her how stupid I was and how I must have something wrong with me if I can’t handle the homework in beginner Spanish. After talking to a couple friends about it I realized that I am not an idiot. Just the opposite in fact. I am training to be a missionary. Once I learn Spanish I will be able to share the Gospel with many more people. The devil does not want me to learn Spanish.
We probably all know about the devil who is roaring like a lion waiting to devour us. I was devoured that night. I was left alone. I let my guard down and I was mauled, chewed up and crapped out. Looking back, I am thankful that it all happened. Now I know what I need to do. I know why it happened.
I am one of those guys who thinks that I can do everything on my own. I don’t like to ask for help- I want it to be offered. The devil knows that and he was letting me know that he knew that. God knows that and I believe he was allowing this to happen to teach me to get off my high horse. I should have immediately called my friends and said “Let’s pray.” I should have said to my wife “Please come with me, Let’s pray.” When I was playing basketball and was asked how things were i should have said “I feel like my life is in ruins right now and I cannot handle it. Will you please pray with me?” Any one of those would have been better than trying to be “a man” and handle it on my own.
I learned lots of things through this experience. I am always learning to constantly rely on God for strength and power. What started as struggle studying for a Spanish test ended with me getting 80% on the test. The night ended with me apologizing to my daughter. I laid on her bed beside her, bawling my eyes out. Finally she said “Dad, you are getting my pillow all wet.” Then she told me that she loved me. I went to bed, exhausted and broken, put on my headphones and listened to Demon Hunter‘s Storm the Gates of Hell album until I fell asleep.
- I am not in this battle alone, I have friends who love me
- My wife is my best friend and I can count on her to pray me through battles
- Do daily devotions, be prepared, put on the full armor of God
- Recognize the signs and pray – a Spanish test (nothing) is not more important than prayer
- God is bigger, rely on him wholly
- Control your tongue, don’t snap at your kids
I want to serve God more than anything else in this world. I want God to use me in the biggest ways possible. I want to conquer the world for Jesus Christ. But if that is going to happen I had better be ready for the attacks. I had better know how to recognize them when they are starting. I had better surround myself with people who will pray for me and use them when it is needed. It goes to show you that life is not easy when you choose to be a follower of Christ. Life is better but not easier.
Ephesians 6 10-13 esv Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.