Life is full of spiritual battles. How can we stay strong when we’re enduring spiritual attacks from the enemy? What can we do to be mentally strong during a spiritual battle? Let’s talk about seven different ways to stay strong during a spiritual battle, based on neuroscience and biblical truth.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [4:50] What it means to walk through a spiritual battle
- [11:02] How we can stay strong during these spiritual battles
- [11:21] Put on your armor during a spiritual battle
- [14:58] Cultivate an attitude of praise and a lense of gratitude
- [16:17] Surrender what is not under your control during a spiritual battle
- [18:14] Stay strong by getting plenty of physical rest through sleep
- [21:12] Create space for emotional, creative, sensory, and mental rest
- [23:04] Notice and pay attention to what you need and honor your capacity
- [25:51] Staying honest with your feelings before God
- [27:23] Overcoming false beliefs to stay strong during a spiritual battle
[4:50] What it means to walk through a spiritual battle
Let’s talk about what it means to walk through a spiritual battle. I want to share a couple things we have experienced over the last few years in our home. Many of you know about the health crisis that I went through about four-and-a-half years ago. I very unexpectedly had a huge medical crisis that nearly took my life. We have gone through two extended times of unemployment with my husband’s job – the first time was 18 months and the second time was a 15 month layoff. Both were related to corporate downsizing, and the second was impacted by what was happening with COVID. While neither were caused by anything we had done, we went through extreme times of learning to trust God and to lean on him through that battle.
It would have been easy for us to turn to despair and sadness, and then we lost my mother-in-law unexpectedly to COVID last fall. My father-in-law was also very sick, and they were both in the hospital for a month. That was definitely a shock to have two people who were relatively healthy come down with COVID and for one of them to go home to Jesus.
We have had a car accident that happened with one of our young drivers, and God spared his life. There was a ravine on the other side of where he crashed his car, and he ended up crashing into a large rock which stopped his car from going over. The airbags deployed, and he walked away with a bruise on his arm.
There have been other scary situations with some mental issues that our teens have been walking through in addition to friend drama. There have even been issues and drama with our own adult friends.
I’m sure we all have a list of things that we have gone through, but I am sharing my list from the last five years to show that I am well aware of what it is like to not have a perfect life. There is no perfect life, and in fact some of the things I have learned after walking through these intense spiritual battles is that it’s not about me. I can be doing things right and following God (and I’m never going to follow Him perfectly because we are still sinners in this world), but these spiritual battles that we go through are part of living in a fallen world.
We get caught up in this warfare sometimes, and it especially seems to happen when we are moving into a new territory, stepping out for God, or being challenged. We’re a threat, and so that means we can tend to be more of a target. That is not something to be afraid of, but rather it means that we can be targeted when we step out and do big things for God or push back on something that is not right. The enemy doesn’t like that, but that does not mean that we have to be fearful about following God or doing what He wants us to do. At the end of the day, God is still in charge. He is in charge of every situation, and the enemy has to come to Him to get permission to allow things in our life (as we see in the book of Job).
While God doesn’t cause the pain, He can sometimes allow things to happen or allow us to sit in them longer than we would like in order to accomplish His purpose. He may want to refine things in our character, or He may allow our testimony to shine to somebody else during that season.
What has been helpful for me is to accept and lean into God. We can’t see Him as the enemy, but instead we need to go deeper and allow His love to help us to get through. It has also been helpful for me to give myself permission to stop expecting Nirvana in my life. I think for a long time I had the idea that everything was going to work out perfectly, and I was surprised when we encountered these spiritual battles. We can do all the right things, and A plus B doesn’t always have to equal C in this world, unfortunately. We don’t need to be surprised when these hard things happen in life. We don’t have to feel mad about them, and we should be able to express what we’re feeling because it is normal to feel those things.
I had to stop getting mad, and I had to stop thinking that getting through a hard time would lead to a time where stress doesn’t exist. I really believe that God allows us to go through these circumstances so that we can be strengthened to continue to endure in this life.
[11:02] How we can stay strong during these spiritual battles
I came up with seven different actions that I’ve taken to stay strong, to keep up my energy, to keep up my stamina, and to keep up my mental attitude through spiritual battles.
[11:21] Put on your armor during a spiritual battle
The first one is a critical one, and that is to put on your armor. I am going to share this familiar scripture, and then pull out two parts and apply them to what it means in terms of staying strong in a spiritual battle from a mental perspective.
Ephesians 6:10-17 says:
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
There is a lot packed into these verses, but we are just going to talk about two aspects. First, let’s talk about the belt of truth. The belt of truth is in verse 14: Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. If you think about this picture that is being created here of a warrior going into battle – a Roman soldier’s garment was held together by his belt. He had a long piece of cloth and the belt cinched it in and gave it shape. I love thinking about how who we are is held together by God’s truth. Remembering we are God’s daughters holds us together. We need to remember those promises of God and focus on them. That needs to be what holds us together in these times.
The shield of faith is the other thing I wanted to emphasize here. A Roman soldier would have a huge shield and they would hide under it almost like a turtle shell when an attack would come. When we are walking through these spiritual battles, we don’t know the answers and we don’t know when or how it is going to end. Like this massive Roman shield, we can stay mentally strong and protected under God’s promises as long as we know who is protecting us. We need to be able to grab that shield to protect us. We don’t have to have the answers to stay strong in the spiritual battle, because knowing that God has the answers is enough.
So the first step is to put on our armor. We need to notice when we are beginning to believe things that are not true. What we believe affects how we show up, so if our belt of truth is now a belt of half-truths, we need to look at that and address that. Then, we need to think about whether we are just standing out there and letting everything happen. Sometimes during the roughest battles, we need to go under that shield. We need to go under the wings of God, as it says in the Psalms, and be protected until the storm passes.
[14:58] Cultivate an attitude of praise and a lense of gratitude
The second thing is to cultivate an attitude of praise and a lens of gratitude. We talk about this in the Bible studies that I do, and it is one of the exercises I teach in the Spiritual Growth Rhythm. We also have a Bible study inside the Christian Mindset Makeover.
Every day, we should ask ourselves to name three ways that we have seen the presence of God show up in the last 24-48 hours. That trains our minds and eyes to see God’s presence. It goes in line with Philippians 4:8: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are admirable and worthy of praise.
We need to choose to let that be forefront. We can decide to see where God is at work, and where He is fighting. If we believe that He is in control, then it makes sense that we know He is there and we can actively seek Him.
[16:17] Surrender what is not under your control during a spiritual battle
Another way to stay strong during a spiritual battle is to surrender what is not ours to control. I am not going to go into detail about this right now, because we are going to cover it more extensively in an upcoming episode. We need to think about what we can control versus what we cannot control, and in a later episode we will really dissect that down in a more practical way. I am going to share some really powerful tools from the Christian Mindset Makeover that I think will be helpful.
[18:14] Stay strong by getting plenty of physical rest through sleep
We also need to get plenty of physical rest through sleep. We all know how different life looks when we get some sleep, which is why those early mothering years are so torturous – we need sleep! When we get sleep, our physical body is restored. Our muscles are restored.
When we sleep, there is also something really interesting that happens in the brain. The brain begins to organize and take all the information it has absorbed through the day and sort it, analyze it, and figure it out. It begins to connect all the dots, which is why we sometimes solve problems in our dreams. It’s also why we sometimes wake up at 3:00AM and find ourselves arguing with somebody or working through an issue.
When we sleep, the brain is also clearing out toxins that have built up throughout the day. This is why our brain can feel that fog or fatigue at the end of the day. When we get enough sleep, it clears away those toxins and allows our neurons to fire correctly again.
Recently, some of our children have been walking through some emotional challenges and part of that was not being helped by the fact that they couldn’t sleep. My biggest prayer request was for the Lord to help these kids sleep, because I knew that if they could sleep, they could look at the things they were working through with a fresh brain.
I love that God made us with limits, and sleep reminds us to honor those limits. Psalm 127:2 says, It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to His loved ones.
Rest is one of those things that is there waiting for us, and sometimes we run from it. God is offering it and telling us to stop running, chasing, and doing. Psalm 3:5 says, I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.
We trust God to give Him our bodies and our minds, and sleep gives us the energy to keep going. Of course there are also tons of verses on Sabbath, reiterating the importance of rest. So yes, getting rest through sleep is huge.
[21:12] Create space for emotional, creative, sensory, and mental rest
We also need to create space for emotional, creative, sensory, and mental rest. This was something we covered in a previous episode with Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith. She talked about the seven ways to get rest, and she shared that sometimes – especially when we’re going through a time of stress or tension – we can be nonspecific about feeling tired. It is more helpful to identify if we are physically tired, intellectually drained, in need of emotional expression, or looking for creative rest. We need to figure that out and actively build it into our lives, knowing that what we are going through now is depleting us in a greater way than maybe in a normal season.
It might be important to go sit outside in stillness for 10 minutes or to pick up an old hobby. For the last few months, I have picked up ceramics and pottery. I did watercolors for a while. Experimenting with these hobbies has been so filling and healing during these seasons of spiritual battle.
[23:04] Notice and pay attention to what you need and honor your capacity
When we are dealing with difficult things, it will drain our energy reserves. That seems obvious, but we so often just push ourselves through these things. One of the best pieces of advice that I got from my coach during a spiritual battle last year related to parenting was reminding me to be a secure foundation for my children as they go through difficult times. In order to be that foundation of love, care, and compassion, we need to really show up for ourselves as well. We need to really fill ourselves up because only when we are filled up can we offer that to others.
This helped me to understand that my capacity was being drained in a different way, and I needed to say no to some of those things that I had been doing. Our capacities are limited, so we need enough room to say yes to the things that are energizing and fulfilling. I want to give you permission today to say no to things that feel draining and yes to things that feel energizing. You have to prioritize self-care. If you don’t, you may get through, but those battle scars are going to be a lot more evident.
We want you to get through with strength. We want you to be triumphant. We want you to experience a full life, even in the midst of spiritual battle. In John 10:10, Jesus says that He came to give us life and life to the fullest. We understand that problems are going to continually exist in our lives, and so if God came to give us life to the fullest that means we have to cling to Him in the difficult times. We have to get filled up emotionally, intellectually, physically, socially, and spiritually.
I encourage us to really think about that and consider our capacity. We do not need anyone’s permission to say no to what drains us and yes to what energizes us.
[25:51] Staying honest with your feelings before God
We can all be real about whatever pain we are experiencing. We may feel grief from losing a loved one, confusion about why a situation worked out differently than we expected, or frustration with people not doing what is expected. Being honest about our spiritual battle allows God in, to help us work through the pain. We are also going to talk more about this in future episodes, so I don’t want to go too deep into it here. Being honest before God with our feelings is critical because He is our partner in this. He wants to walk through spiritual battles with us, and we can invite Him into that.
[27:23] Overcoming false beliefs to stay strong during a spiritual battle
It is doubly hard when we are dealing with our own demons on the inside, such as the false beliefs we have ingrained in our hearts as a result of our experiences. We can get stuck in these patterns of needing to achieve, hustle, perform, and all these things. Even when we know we shouldn’t do things, we can’t get out of these patterns. When we find freedom in those areas, our lives can become so much simpler. These spiritual battles that come up become a thousand times more manageable.
That is why I encourage you to look into the Christian Mindset Makeover. We address the deeper issues, and we get to the root. We provide a script and a new soundtrack, and we use brain science to put that new soundtrack in place. It is incredible how much freedom and peace comes when we operate from a renewed mind. We can process things the way God intended us to process them, and we can truly partner with God on these issues.
The Christian Mindset Makeover is a nine-part course that is based on the coaching that I have done for almost four years now around these topics. It has been my way of helping more women at an affordable investment compared to one-on-one coaching. You still have live interaction with me twice a month on Zoom calls, in the Facebook group, and via email.
I encourage you to learn more about it and find a freedom that would help you as you’re going through spiritual battles.
OTHER PODCAST EPISODES ON STAYING MENTALLY STRONG:
- Ep 114: Mindset Matters: 7 Weapons of Warfare to Renew Your Mind
- Ep 125: How the Hustle Culture + Need to Achieve Nearly Took My Life
- Ep 129: How to Identify Toxic Thinking Patterns and Break Free from Negative Thoughts
- Ep 149: A Fresh Look at How to Find Rest When You’re Tired of Being Tired with Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith
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