After talking with a friend who said she was experiencing some darts of discouragement and guilt from her past, I thought about the darts I had been hit with too. We are admonished to take up the shield of faith so we will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one (Ephes. 6:16).
I picture myself leaving my quiet time of renewing my faith with an armload of helium balloons filled with love, joy, peace, patience, hope… And often before ten minutes pass a dart flies out of nowhere and POP, one or more of my balloons hangs limp. I feel as deflated as my hanging balloons.
The “evil one” is also called the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Probably using our own flesh, he whispers his accusations, “you aren’t doing enough, you haven’t changed,” or in first person, “I need to be doing something more, what is wrong with me?” Sometimes he uses other people or events to initiate his barbs. How do we know such thoughts aren’t from God? Romans 8:31-39 makes it clear that the Triune God does not accuse us. And when He convicts us of sin, He points out specifics. He gives us something to confess and forsake. Or He counsels us in what to do. That is very different from a nebulous feeling of fear, regret, despair or any other of our enemy’s favorite poison darts.
We all seem to have our vulnerable areas. Yours may be different from mine. I’ve put a tab in my journal to record verses and quotes that address my susceptible areas. The shield of faith is forged by hearing and applying the word of truth. God promises to be a shield for all who take refuge in Him (1 Samuel 22:31). He allows us to feel the ping of the darts so we will press in closer to Him and learn to walk by faith in the areas we feel exposed.
The temptation to feel discouraged, fearful, guilty, alone, or whatever you struggle with, is common to all of us. But God promises to provide a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). The next time you are hit by a zinger, pull out your shield and reject that lie. Wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Sometimes quoting a verse phrase out loud is enough to stop the negative thoughts. Other times I have to evaluate the thoughts in light of God’s truth. We are told to resist the devil, to take our thoughts captive to Christ and to set our minds on things above (James 4:7; 2 Cor. 10:5; Col. 3:2). These are actions. Passivity won’t work.
It is not enough to fill your balloons once a day, you have to protect them throughout the day and repair the ones that get zapped. Because, after all, we aren’t really talking about darts, they are missiles, and they aren’t poisonous, they are fiery. And our enemy isn’t just wanting to rob our peace and joy, he wants to destroy us. But God who is greater lives in us and equips us to become skilled in using the sword and shield He has provided. He doesn’t call us super conquerors for nothing (Rom. 8:37)!
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