This is How I Fight My Battles
“In the spirit of heaviness, put on a garment of praise.” Isaiah 61:3
They say life comes at you fast. So true! I think 2020 will go down as a year of struggles and battles for many of us. But while car insurance may help when our car physically wrecks, what do we do when the crash is emotional? How do we pick up the pieces and start again?
The prophet Isaiah tells us, “Instead of a spirit of heaviness, put on a garment of praise,” (Isaiah 61:3). When the load gets too heavy, when the money is tight. When the kids are breaking your heart or friends seem distant. When work is too hard or hard to find. When you feel emotionally and mentally under attack, put on a garment of praise.
Like virtually everything God encourages us to do, praising Him in the midst of a fierce storm seems counter-intuitive. What? Praise?! How is that supposed to help? I need real solutions.
Here’s the thing. It works. It’s the last thing I want to do when times are tough, but it is almost always the one thing that can turn my heart and mind around. Why? I believe it’s because while I see my circumstances with human eyes, praise reminds me to look at them through heavenly ones.
When I’m struggling, my focus in on the problems, the obstacles, the emotions, the anger. Praise reminds me there is a presence far bigger than the obstacles I face. And while I may be surprised by my circumstances, God is not. He already knew they were coming, has already lined up the solution for my healing. He is so good!
Praise reminds me of what is true. Namely, that this world is not my home, heaven is. Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He’s bigger than my troubles, and He’s bigger than yours, too.
For Further Thought: Here are a couple of ways to put your focus on praise.
· Turn on some worship music and sing along. It really lifts your spirit! Or take out an old church hymnal and sing through the songs you know. Make up your own songs to the Lord, or join an online praise and worship session. Look up lyrics to uplifting songs and simply sing to the Lord with a humble heart. It is a freeing experience! One of my favorite songs when I’m really feeling attacked is, “This is How I Fight My Battles” by Michael W. Smith. My favorite line is when he sings, “It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by you.” Yes and amen! God is there for us always.
· Make time for gratitude, thanking God for the many blessings that still exist in your life. In particularly challenging seasons, consider keeping a gratitude journal by your bed and at the end of each day, write down what you are thankful for and/or how you saw God moving that day. I have found doing this also has the side benefit of protecting my mind from racing with negativity all night.
· Read your Bible. Paul tells us that faith is our spiritual shield against the flaming arrows of the enemy, and the faith comes from reading God’s word (Ephesians 6:16, Romans 10:17). In other words, the more you read, the stronger your faith grows. The stronger your faith, the easier it becomes to fight back with grace, truth and love. Some of my favorite scriptures to focus on during trials are the psalms, especially Psalm 40, 42 and Psalms 61-63, and any scripture about what my focus needs to be (Philippians 4:8, Romans 8:18-39, Galatians 5:22).
· Give yourself a set time frame to pray and think through the challenges, then let them go for the day. Every time your mind wanders back there, quote to yourself Romans 12:2, “Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” This is a powerful practice that will literally change the way you process and think, creating a leaning toward positivity and faith versus fear and failure.
Have other ideas or suggestions that work for you? I’d love to hear so please post and share in the comments below.
Prayer: Lord, you know my anxious heart. You know the troubles I am facing and how they weigh on me. You promise to hold my hand and guide me forward toward your path of peace and light. Thank you that you are always faithful to me even when I’m feeling faithless. When troubles overwhelm me, you scoop me in your arms and comfort me. Praise you, Papa! Praise your holy name. Always you are good even when life isn’t. Thank you that you hem me in from in front and behind. You are my rock and my refuge, and I will yet praise you. Amen.
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