Doreen Wennberg

Toxic Environments, Finding Strength in God's Word
Thursday, July 13, 2023 by Doreen Wennberg

Encouragement – we need it every day because life is unpredictable. As followers of Christ, we face many unique challenges that can overwhelm us. You may not watch the news and still be well aware of a war across the world, racism, and political division in many countries, and environmental, financial, and healthcare crises everywhere you look. Family relations might be upside down, your church may have its own set of issues, and encountering road rage is not uncommon.

When disappointments, doubts, fears, or frustrations begin to overcome your faith, remember that you are not alone.

Though your community, home, school, or workplace may be toxic, you do not have to yield to the environment. Rejection may sting us and temporarily set us back, but God can meet us right where we are.

Keep Seeking God

Too often, when discouraged, people turn away from God and give up. By turning to God, we can regain strength and encouragement to persevere through life’s challenges. 

Prayer is our approach to God. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

God is faithful, to comfort us through the reading of his word, no matter what we are going through.

Meditate in the Psalms on verses like Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Psalm 18:6, “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”

Psalm 91:1-2, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

There is great comfort in reading scripture, especially when we grow fearful. Meditating on scripture reminds us of Who God is and what his promises are. Often, we start reading a few verses like these and end up reading the whole Psalm as God comforts, encourages, and speaks through his word.

Equipped and Strengthened

Recognize the tactics of your Spiritual enemy, the devil. Many would like to believe he is a fantasy figure, but the Bible is clear that he is real.

I have encountered countless oppositional schemes enough times in my life to recognize the onslaught of his attacks. Perhaps you have too?

But God’s Word equips and strengthens us.

If you’re a seasoned follower of Christ, you’re likely familiar with Ephesians 6:10-18. If not, these are the armor verses. No matter who we are, the reminder is clear for all, we are to put on God’s armor. Let’s look at a quick refresher on this passage. Notice verse 10 starts with, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power, not in ourselves. The enemy is a powerful foe whether we acknowledge that or not. 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that we should not underestimate the enemy.  

Ephesians 6:11 tells us to “put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” In this verse, Paul gives two commands, 1) Put on the full armor, and 2) Take your stand.

A Roman soldier would never go into battle with just a breastplate on and not the rest of his armor. Neither should the Christian leave off any piece of God’s armor. Putting on the full armor suggests the necessity of every piece for full protection at every angle. Then we are ready to take our stand against the enemy and his schemes.

Notice that verse 12 states, “that our fight is not against flesh and blood.”  These rulers, authorities, and powers are of the invisible spiritual world— Satan and his demons who seek to destroy us.

No wonder Paul reiterates the importance of our armor and standing our ground in verse 13.

The Six Pieces of Armor  Ephesians 6:14-17.

Paul was imprisoned many times and used the Roman guards to describe God’s armor.

The belt of truth represents the truth of God’s word against the lies of Satan.

The breastplate of righteousness protects the heart. The believer has God’s righteousness because of Christ’s work on the cross.

Feet fitted with the gospel shoes of peace. A soldier wore shoes that equipped him to be ready to run into battle. The Christian soldier is to have our feet fitted with the gospel shoes so that we are ready to share the good news (gospel) at any time.

The Shield of Faith protects us from Satan’s flaming arrows.

The Helmet of Salvation protects our mind from the enemy’s onslaught and keeps us from doubting God’s work of salvation.

The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God and is the only offensive weapon mentioned. We wield this weapon against the enemy by using the powerful truth of the Holy Scriptures that we study to know.

Along with the Armor, Paul instructs the believer in Ephesians 6:18, to Pray in the Spirit and be Alert. As Christian soldiers, equipped with God’s armor, we are to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. We are always alert to the enemy’s tactics and pray for fellow believers in Christ.

To pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers is living a life of prayer that lives from a perspective of looking to God in all things.

So, when disappointments, doubts, fears, and frustrations threaten to overwhelm you, release them to God, put your armor on, and allow the truth of his word to fight against the discouragement and lies of the enemy. Pray in the Spirit for God’s overcoming power to strengthen you in that very moment. He is faithful. When we “draw near to God, he will draw near to us” James 4:8.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for always being near me. Thank you for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me into all truth, especially when the enemy comes against me with discouragement and lies. Thank you for your armor and your mighty power that you give to stand against the devil and his schemes. When I am fearful, doubting, or discouraged, - help me to release those things to you and renew my faith and trust in you. ~In Jesus’ Name, Amen.          



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