I learned over the last few weeks that the Christian life is a battleground. It’s something that we’ve all known and it’s something that we’ve been taught over the years. I always thought I knew this as well, until I realised what a battleground means.
A few Sundays back, I had a fabulous encounter with the Holy Spirit at church and from that I knew I had to make a decision, and I won’t go into the details, but it was a gut-wrenching decision. I also had to deal with the aftermath of that decision because I knew that it was the right decision by God, but it was not what I wanted.
As someone who already struggles with mental health issues, the aftermath of this decision became more amplified, more intense and the intensity didn’t end. I immediately felt like God had left me. I felt like I had made the wrong decision and the worst choice and that God was disappointed in me. I began to feel like my life held no purpose anymore.
What once felt like the right choice, soon started to sound like my death rattle. Each minute felt like I was being pushed towards ending it all.
I don’t know what the trigger was, or even why, but all I knew was that I was in the middle of it and couldn’t make it stop.
I fell back into familiar bad habits, not sin, but the bad habits of doubting God, doubting His Word, doubting His existence. How can a good God allow bad things? Thoughts that played in a loop over and over until it felt like I was holding on by a thread.
People around me told me to look at my children, “Oh Cheryl, don’t do it! Think about the children! They need you.”
If you’ve struggled with mental health, especially suicidal thoughts, you’ll know that at that definitive point of desperation, nothing matters, not even those closest to you because you know that you’re no good to anyone in this state. Do my children need to constantly live with a mum who struggles? Who is unstable? Who can’t get a grip? Who is weak? Who gets so numb?
I realised that I needed to hold on, partly because I couldn’t figure out the best way to end it all. Was the knife good? Were the tablets enough? Would the rope be strong enough? My worst fear was failing at suicide, because then my family would have to deal with me being on ‘suicide watch’, and that wasn’t worth it.
I thought I might as well talk to God, because I felt like there was literally no one around who understood, wanted to understand or who wanted to take the time or effort. I went back to reading Matthew 14 and began reading the passage about Jesus walking on water.
I realised that the poor disciples were meant to go to the other side, just based off Jesus’ words. They didn’t have any miracles to go off. They had to row exhaustingly in the wrong direction against the wind, and if they had turned back, the wind would have been for them.
We all know the story after that, Jesus walked on the water- but what caught my eye was the fact that He came walking in the fourth watch (verse 25 KJV). That’s the hours between 3am and 6am, and that is usually the darkest because dawn hasn’t broken yet.
I had to relate that to my life and understand that what I was feeling was exactly that. I couldn’t recognise Jesus walking on the water towards me, and I felt that I was in the exact same storm, facing the same fear and anguish and the enemy was using every one of insecurities against me.
It was then I understood the word battleground. I realised that I had brought the misery upon myself.
I had chosen to give the storm the undue importance versus the Word of God. I had to at that point decide- to reject my familiar patterns or to glorify God and extend everything He has entrusted to me.
I could choose to remain beaten in defeat or to rise up and say that “greater is He that is in me” and continue this battle.
The word battleground became unambiguous. I realised that I am in a storm because the enemy fears me because he knows my future better than I know it myself.
I have to put on the whole armour of God (from Ephesians 6:10-18) and I have to be ready for battle all the time.
I also had to come to terms that my circumstances may get worse, but just because I lose a battle doesn’t mean that I will lose the war.
I learned that the only way I could keep the flaming arrows of the evil one away from me was by activating my faith. I must believe that Jesus is for me and with me and He guides every step I take because He gave me His word.
His Word said that He will never leave me nor forsake me, and I have to keep my faith in His word, and not look at the storms crashing and rocking my boat.
I must always activate my faith when the enemy reminds me of all my mistakes, my grief, my pain or my struggles, and I learned that none of those define me.
I am not defined by who the world says I am, but I am defined by who Jesus says I am, because only with Him can I advance against every attack.
I pray deeply that this teaches you that you are not who you think you are. You are who He says you are. The enemy isn’t going to let go that easily, but your shield of faith can extinguish every arrow the enemy throws against you.
If God is for you, who can be against you?
“God is not going to put the armour on me, I must do that myself.”@cherylchristopher
"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:11-17