I try and share as much as I can on this blog. Sometimes I really have to pause and think about my intentions behind sharing personal things, and whether or not it is accomplishing any good. I think in this day and age all of us tend to overshare more often than not. Last time I opened up on this space about our personal struggles the emails, comments and encouragement was overwhelming. It was so good for me to have that, to share in your personal experiences and to educate a lot of young women about something that is quite a lot more common than I ever thought.
If you are totally lost, earlier this year I shared about the loss of two pregnancies. (Taboo subject, I know.) I'm only back to talk about it today because there are so many woman experiencing this in silence and only when I share about it do I hear similar stories. It's not something we talk about very much. I mean, its not fun to talk about, and a lot of us feel ashamed about it. I know that I certainly did when it happened twice in a row. I thought something was really wrong with me, I thought my body was failing me and I wasn't good enough, and then I let those thoughts shift to really unhealthy things like "God probably isn't allowing me to have children because I don't deserve it". It's so easy to think those things to ourselves and let it stew in our minds and take root in our hearts. And those kind of thoughts can destroy us, crush our spirit and snuff out all the good things.
This summer I got pregnant again, and it didn't last. And then last month, again positive pregnancy tests. This time I phoned up my doctor and all but begged them to do something to help keep this pregnancy. I started going in to get my HCG levels checked, and they were rising. I got a shot of progesterone and they increased even more. We were feeling good, we were feeling like this was finally going to be the one, it was working out and our prayers were finally being answered the way we were hoping. Our family was praying about it, our friends came together in prayer as well; let's just say we prayed a LOT about it. I literally was crying out to the Lord every hour of the day, if you could see inside my head you would have thought I was a crazy person. Everything was on track and going well and then I got a call that my levels had dropped signaling a miscarriage and once again we were right back where we always seem to be-- disappointed, disheartened and in despair.
I was thinking a lot, and praying a lot and trying to glean some truth from the whole ordeal. Some good that could come out of this situation and all I was met with was opposition. I woke up in the mornings, intentional to do my prayer time and I just would feel defeated before I even began. I was asking a lot of questions about why I was feeling so utterly attacked and just apathetic. I know that being sad is normal, and as a christian we are not immune to feeling the rawness of that emotion, but something about how I was feeling was more than just being upset in our circumstance.
During the bleakness of the week I was reading in the old testament, a story from Isaiah about Hezekiah. When I read it I almost fell out of my seat. I have realized a huge, HUGE lesson about Satan and how he works and I really want to share that with you all, because he does it to every single one of us.
First, let me pain this picture of what was going on about 700 b.c. in what we now refer to as the middle east. The story centers around Hezekiah, he was the king in Jerusalem which made up the lands of Judah. (Kind of like state and country, to put it into perspective). This "country" or the lands of Judah were being attacked by the Assyrian army. The Assyrians were sweeping down from the North and had conquered literally every city they passed through. At this particular time in this story the Assyrian army had conquered both Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel, and had devastated the countryside. All that remained was Jerusalem and if the Assyrians conquered that, then Judah would be destroyed in its entirety. So, these were desperate times for king Hezekiah-- he had a massive, violent, undefeated army at his doorstep. The commander of the Assyrian army waltzes into Jerusalem and three of Hezekiah's officials come out to meet him.
This field commander immediately lays into them asking them who are they trusting in-- why do they think they are not going to be destroyed and conquered just like every other nation the Assyrians have been victorious over. He is demoralizing and trying to break down their spirit. He even calls into question the fact that they are trusting in the Lord. He tries to tell them that the Lord is not going to protect them and calls for them to surrender and pledge to the king of Assyria. This is the commander's entire strategy--- to make Judah give up. The Assyrians could very well have ridden in and attacked without sending the commander to go into the city and talk with Hezekiah's officials. But you see, the Assyrian army would prefer if Judah would simply give up out of fear, discouragement or despair.
It was right then and there when I almost fell out of my chair. You know why? Because I think this is excactly how Satan attacks you and I.
Growing up I have learned that Satan attacks us and I came to picture him as itching for a fight, ready to do battle with us. After reading this story and few others, I am not so sure anymore that is how it works. I don't think Satan wants to engage us in battle--- first of all, there is a good chance that we will win. Second of all, win or lose, that battle might draw us closer to the Lord (a chance he might not want to take). Third, what the Lord does in our lives through that conflict can be a great blessing and testament to other people. So no, I don't think Satan wants to engage us in battle, he would much rather try and talk us into giving up. This exact strategy is used against Jesus during his temptation in the wilderness-- when Satan is promising Jesus all the kingdoms in the world for Jesus' worship. The devil tried to avoid the fight and talk Him into giving up.
I can see him using this very strategy against me these past few weeks. He hasn't engaged me directly but he is laying this heavy burden, feelings of depression and not being good enough. "See, Ashley, you aren't going to have a baby. You lost another one, why are you still hoping in this?",he is whispering. Satan has been attacking me, I can feel it. Often, he attacks by telling us the truth: you are a sinner, you don't deserve the love and forgiveness of the Lord! He isn't telling us these things to lead us to a firmer trust in Jesus (yes, we are sinner's but Jesus died to forgive us!) Instead, his strategy is to demoralize and drive us to despair.
For me, he is doing that in the details--- the small things. Driving out every little spark of hope so that I just give up on remaning positive and trusting in God and His greater plan. After reading this story about Hezekiah and seeing how the devil worked to try and demoralize Jerusalem I am totally recognizing how that has been happening in my own life.
We haven't given up hope that we will expand our family one day when the time is right. But even if that never happens, I can't and won't be sad about it because I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord is working in my favor. I said it before and I will say it until I am blue in the face, He loves me so much. He loves all of us so very much and when we just release our cares and burdens and desires to Him and allow Him to lead us where we are meant to go great things happen. The RIGHT things happen. Everything lines itself right up and works out. I love that, don't you? Doesn't it make you just want to wrap your arms around the Lord and give him a huge hug?
In case you are wondering how that story ends in Jerusalem, the spirit of the Lord strikes down the Assyrian army--- thousands of them die on the battle fields never having lifted a finger against Jerusalem. The Lord protects His people who trusted in Him.
I am so comforted to know that, and after having read this story I am all the more ready for Satan and his sneaky, deceptive attacks. I'm also ready to power on through the end of this year and enjoy the holidays with my beloved husband and great family.
Has Satan attacked you by trying to drive you to giving up?
Can you look back now and realize this was one of his ways of demoralizing you and your spirit?