Recently a discouraged young man told me he felt like giving up. Every day he battled the same old problem. It was a tough struggle and victory seemed illusive. Can you relate? If not, likely you know someone who can. Many people are in this situation; folks all around are battling overwhelming enemies of various kinds. I am not speaking here of human enemies but of enemies such as addiction, poverty, rejection, failure, fear, lonliness, lust, inner brokenness, anger, depression and lack of purpose; enemies in the unseen realm.
Rather than soaring on the heights this man found himself dwelling in a low place, a valley-of-decision. Would he succumb to the pressure to give up, or not? What is the way through a dry place, a fiery trial such as this? Is there a way out? Is there hope for the future? Yes!
Eze 37:1-14 English Standard Version
(1) The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.
(2) And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.
(3) And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.“
(4) Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
(5) Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
(6) And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
(7) So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.
(8) And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.
(9) Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
(10) So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
(11) Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’
(12) Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.
(13) And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.
(14) And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”
Not knowing all the details of this young man’s situation, just as I don’t know yours, this is what I said to him:
The God who gives life to the dead can set you free from whatever you find yourself entangled in. Never give up! You’ve got the Father in heaven on your side. He is not your critic. He is your champion. He has made a way for you to get a fresh start every time you need one. And he gives you help without putting you down, or thinking less of you, or otherwise belittling you. He’s already taken your shame; paid for your sin. All he asks of you now is for you to recognize your mistakes and to keep on turning toward him. Acknowledge the wrong. Apologize if need be. Get up. Dust yourself off with the blood of Jesus and give his way another go. Your persistence will pay off. He’s cheering you on!
Any condemnation you feel is NOT coming from him. The evil one is the accuser of the brethren and sometimes in our pride we help him do the job by accusing ourselves. Don’t help the enemy. Be humble. Receive his mercy. Accept that you made a mistake. We all do at times. Refocus your eyes as fast as possible (not on where you messed up) but rather on his goodness, his mercy and his love for you. Keep your eyes off of yourself and on him as much as you possibly can. Train yourself in this.
Give up? What good would that do? If you give up… that’s when you lose. Look ahead in time. What would it get you? The only way you can lose is by giving up. Giving up gets you absolutely no place you’ll ever want to be. That voice urging you to give up is the voice of doubt and unbelief. Just like the voice of accusation, the voice of unbelief weakens you. Ignore those discouraging thoughts. Better yet command them to shut up! Then turn your thoughts to what is good! Fill your mind so full of good that there’s no room left for anything else.
The enemy is trying to make you into a loser. If you refuse to quit you cannot lose. God will never quit on you. Don’t quit on yourself. Never give up. God is mighty. He is able. He has your answer and he is your answer. And besides that, he responds to faith. He’s looking for people who believe him and who believe in him. You show you believe him by practicing persistent positivity.
Press in closer to him. Discover his promises. Read them. Memorize whichever ones stick out to you for this situation. Plant those promises in your heart. Expect the LORD to do what he says he will do. Ask him to make a way for you. Listen to his voice in your heart and in his written word. Discover what he would have you do. Follow him step-by-step. If you will do that he will get you free. If you will keep trusting him, continue to listen to him, look at him, love him, follow him and refuse to give up, you are guaranteed to win. By the way, that kind of persistent faith pleases him. It pleases him far more than any outward appearance of perfect performance ever could.
You can tell the difference between the voice of God and the voice of evil. The Bible says, “My sheep hear my voice. The voice of another they will not follow.” It’s your birthright as a child of God to be able to learn to discern the voice of God from other voices. He is the Father of lights, the LORD of life. Study his written word and you will get to know his character better and better. Compare what you hear in your spirit with what you read in the Bible. As the two align, keep on doing what you understand to be his will. And keep on refining your understanding of him according to the truth. In this way you will fine tune your recognition of his voice. And as you read the scriptures you’ll find promises in there to hang onto as you believe. And as you believe, you’ll personally experience the victory that he already paid for and won on your behalf.
After I got done encouraging this young man NOT to give up I realized that there’s another side of the coin. On the one hand, NEVER give up! On the other hand, please do! …What*?*!! * Hold on now. Did you know there is a good kind of giving up? I went on to tell him about that, too. The next blog post will tell you about it. There is a place for giving up. It just depends on WHAT you are giving up. Think ahead. What sort of giving up would help you and me in the battle against evil? Read next time to find out.
Photos from Pixabay.com; Creative Commons Zero CCO 1.0; Public Domain Dedication