Everyone at times experiences feelings of disappointment, discouragement and dejection. Circumstances in our personal life, as well as world events, can cause us to feel overwhelmed and despondent. Oswald Chambers wisely wrote, “We have to battle through our moods.”
Christians are in the unique position of having one foot in the world, and one foot already in Heaven. After all, believers have been “seated with Christ in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6). In other words, our soul is now in direct relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In addition, believers have direct exposure to the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Sometimes when a Christian feels oppressed and “under attack," it is the result of spiritual warfare with demons.
It is hard for us to fully appreciate how dejected Christ’s first disciples must have felt after Jesus was crucified and buried. It was so unexpected, in spite of the fact that the Lord had told them: “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised to life” (Matthew 17:22-23).
Christ’s disciples assumed what most Jews continue to assume today: the Messiah will arrive with great fanfare and establish an earthly kingdom. Instead, Jesus Christ came humbly as a “suffering servant” (Isaiah 53:1-12). Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” (John 18:36) and, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).
Needless to say, believers have a lot going on inside of them. Christ is now on the throne of our heart, while our moods are nevertheless a present reality as well. Some of our moods are rooted in our physical makeup; others are rooted in our emotional makeup; and still others are rooted in the spiritual dynamics we are encountering in our life. And of course, many times our moods are a combination of all three: physical, emotional and spiritual.
It is often next to impossible for us to discern exactly why we are feeling a certain way at a particular time. Sometimes an “attack” is simply emotional turbulence, while other times there are actually demons tempting us and trying to upset our peace in Christ. Spiritual warfare is a daily reality for believers.
This is why it is so important for us as Christians to follow this prescription for peace: “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12). These demons are just as real as the Lord’s holy angels who are "sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
Our emotions can run hot and cold, but God’s salvation story is set in stone even in the midst of our emotional inconsistencies and spiritual attacks. Therefore, it is critical to anchor our life in the historical events of the cross and the empty tomb. The death of Jesus was a glorious victory over Satan and his army, (Colossians 2:15) and the resurrection of Christ was God’s exclamation point in history!
Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Nothing can “separate us from the love of Christ” (Romans 8:35). This includes trouble, hardship, demons, fluctuating moods and unpredictable emotions. It is helpful to confront any feelings of despair we experience with the certainty of Christ's redemptive work at the cross, as well as with God’s Word which is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12).
In order to stand strong against demonic attacks, we need to remember: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Scripture meditation, Scripture memory and prayer are supernatural weapons which empower us to stand strong in the Lord when our mind and emotions are threatened by discouraging thoughts and feelings of dejection. And the greatest weapon we have been given is the Gospel message of our salvation! (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8,9) Jesus endured the agony of crucifixion so that we could be given the free gift of everlasting life in Heaven (Hebrews 12:2; Romans 6:23).
Just because you are a Christian doesn't mean you won’t continue to experience a wide range of moods. Emotional instabilities and psychological pressures are just two of the many disconcerting consequences of man’s fall into sin. Our brief and fragile life on Earth is certainly a far cry from the perfect ecstasy we will experience continually in Heaven.
As Scripture reminds us, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). And “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Sometimes we simply need to speak to our soul, which is so prone to becoming discouraged. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).
The Lord’s willingness to help us in the midst of our emotional storms and spiritual attacks provides an anchor for our soul and a stabilizing influence for our emotions.
The following prayer can help us battle through our moods by the Grace of God:
“Jesus, I am a sinner who struggles not only with my sins but also with moodiness at times. I need you, Lord, to be the anchor for my soul and for my emotions. I believe you died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Come into my life today, dear Lord, with your power, peace, forgiveness and salvation. Wash away my sins. Cleanse me of my evil thoughts and wicked behavior. I want to live for you, Lord, rather than for sin. Change my heart, O God, and make it ever true. Deliver me from a spirit of discouragement and despair and fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit. I know you are alive, Lord Jesus. Renew my spirit whenever I start to feel like I am coming under attack, and whenever I start to become overwhelmed by my emotions or by troubling circumstances in my life. I want to feed my soul everyday with your precious Word. Protect me in the midst of attacks from the spiritual enemies of my soul. Thank you, Jesus, for your amazing grace in my life and for being the Rock of my salvation. Amen."
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.