I had an emotional weekend, because I am finally facing the fact (again) that I need to lose weight. As with many women, this has been a constant in my adult life. First I decide it’s gone too far, so I commit to losing weight. I research and choose a plan I think I can stick to. I do, for a period of time – sometimes months, but sometimes just hours. I have different levels of success, from losing nothing to losing a lot. Then, somehow, it all just falls apart and soon I’m back to where I was in the first place.
While many can relate to my struggles with weight, we all have something that we really want and can’t seem to reach no matter what. It’s strange, – we know that God has a plan and that we play a role in that plan. So what keeps us from “going for it?” If we really know that God has our back and will guide our actions we should have no fear or self doubt. None of us would succumb to daily distractions, addictions, or even simple procrastinations that keep us from achieving our goals. But still, we do.
Are you familiar with any of these scenarios?
*You are working on an article about a topic important to you and have lots of great ideas floating through your head. But when you sit down to organize your thoughts into an organized article, you hit a brick wall.
*You have had the dream of starting your own business but the fear or failure paralyzes you from even exploring your opportunities.
*You have decided to train for a 5K, but it seems like every time you plan on working out something else comes to prevent it.
All of these are examples of what many people call “resistance.” Resistance is often felt when attempting to work on something creative or out-of-the-box, such as an entrepreneurial venture, writing, art, or music. And a person engaged in self-improvement of any kind, such as weight loss, an exercise plan, or continuing education would readily agree that resistance shows up more often than they’d like.
While resistance is a good word to describe the silent struggle we all experience, just knowing about it isn’t enough. It’s important to understand that resistance is a favored tool used by Satan to stop us from achieving God’s best. And when we succumb to resistance, we are not just hurting our personal goals, but we are helping Satan to delay God’s plans for us and His kingdom.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:11 to “put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” One of those strategies is resistance, and resistance can take on may of the same qualities as the Devil:
1. You can’t see, hear, touch or smell resistance. But you can feel it. It is that something that, instead of energy, excitement and spirit, causes lethargy, apathy, and fear towards your endeavor. Suppose your dream is to write a novel. Resistance will invade whenever you sit down to begin by distracting you, placing fears of inadequacy in your heart, and reminding you of all your other responsibilities. Soon, your creative ideas have drifted away as you sit and stare at an empty page.
2. Resistance is deceitful. It will tell you anything to keep you from achieving your goal. It will stop at nothing. I don’t know how many times as I’ve tried to lose weight (again) I have succumbed to the lies that one french fry or cookie won’t matter. Then, after believing that lie through many more than 1 french fry or cookie, I easily believe the next: that one setback means I am done for and I may as well not even continue. Resistance is so smooth and it seems so logical at the time.
3. Resistance is single minded in its attempts to keep us from doing that which it most wants to stop us from doing. It doesn’t get distracted or change it’s mind. It never quits. The more important a goal is to furthering God’s kingdom, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it. Remember the phrase “Good guys finish last?” You can thank Resistance for that – it spends much more time trying to derail the good guys than the bad, because the Devil knows that resistance can stop the work of God in its tracks.
With qualities like those, is it any wonder that resistance is one of the Devil’s key weapons?
How can we overcome such a formidable enemy as resistance? The first step is to know that we don’t have to do it alone. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life (Psalm 121:7). We have God on our side! And don’t for a minute think that Satan is stronger than God. Remember, Satan was created by God, the sovereign Creator! Even Satan’s power is created by God, and can be overcome by God. And God has given US the power to overcome Satan as well: Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. NOTHING will injure you. (Luke 10:19).
God has given us His full armor (Ephesians 6:11) to withstand Satan and resistance in our lives. Here are some things to keep in mind as we battle:
1. Understand that the goal is not to wipe out all resistance. While the devil uses resistance for evil, the mere fact that it is there tells us that we are onto something for God. If our aim, whatever it is, wasn’t something that could further God’s Kingdom, there wouldn’t be so much resistance against it. Resistance is present when God is winning. The struggle isn’t to do away with resistance (and, also the outcome that will glorify God), but to overcome it and achieve our goals in spite of it.
2. Expect Resistance to show up and be ready for it. Again, if you have consulted with God and He approves of a goal, it won’t be long until Satan sends resistance your way. God even warns us he will show up, and we need to be prepared: Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8). So be prepared with ways to combat and overcome the resistance before it shows up so that when it starts working on you, you’re ready.
3. Address Satan and his resistance formally. The Devil is so used to working stealthily in the background. He doesn’t expect to be noticed, and so when you do call him out directly, he loses a lot of his effectiveness and becomes weaker. The more you recognize Satan and directly challenge him, the better chance you have of overcoming the resistance of the moment. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Don’t forget, however, that Satan never quits. If plan A doesn’t work for him, he will retreat and return harder than ever with Plan B. Be prepared to be as persistent as Satan is.
4. Allow yourself to vent to God. We are called to be God’s people, but we don’t have to be perfect. No matter how much you want to achieve a goal, there is always something that you have to give up to get it. That is why resistance is such a successful tool for Satan, who loves to remind you of what you are giving up. Remember that you don’t have to be thrilled over everything. Expect a little pushback from yourself. God knows what you are going through and will listen. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love for me. (Psalm 66:20).
5. Allow yourself to bend, but don’t break. The truth is, we do live in a fallen world, and as a result we will blunder from time to time. Satan, through resistance wants us to take that slip-up and use it as an excuse to quit altogether. Instead, remember that God is on your side and can actually use your mistakes for the good of the situation. Never quit, because quitting is the only way that Satan can win.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3: 21-23
Susan Lee is the author of several Christian Living books including God’s Law of Attraction: The Believer’s Guide to Success and Fulfillment, Developing Patience and Perseverance in an Impatient World and her newly released Devotionals Reflecting on God’s Power: What the Bible Teaches Us About Praise, Forgiveness and More. All are available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format, and are part of the Kindle Unlimited program.