Last week, I posted on my social media that "Part of the game is knowing how the devil plays it." And that seems like something, doesn't it?
We often think of the devil as the prince of darkness, but did you know that he can also play with the light? We think of him as the bringer of great doom, but did you know he can bring you good things, as well? We know that he quoted Scripture at Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness, and this is exactly the kind of game play from our enemy that we have to watch out for and prepare for. And we can, when we realize his tricks.
Let's say you're carrying a heavy burden. The weight of this burden is just crushing you to your very last bit of dust, but there's hope on the horizon. In a set period of time - say, a couple of weeks - you will have the chance to advocate for yourself, try something new, do something differently that might bring you relief. You will have a chance to get out from under this heavy burden. All you have to do is hold on until the time of hope comes. All you have to do...is get there.
Do you know what's going to happen as that day and time approaches? You're going to get better. Your burden is going to get lighter. You're going to start to see a way out from under it, and you're going to have some better days. You are probably even going to have some amazing, beautiful, wonderful days - days when you seem to somehow forget your burden altogether. You're going to believe that your trial is over, that your tribulation is finished. You are going to feel like you are living in victory.
And that's exactly his plan.
The devil doesn't like giving you good days; he doesn't. But he also can't help himself. He knows how powerful hope is, and he knows how possible healing is, and he knows that if he can give you a few goods days right now, he will crush them both - hope and healing, dead as a doornail. Just like that. He knows that a few good days, rightly timed, can plunge you into a darkness so deep that you might never recover (except, of course, by the grace of God, if you have the energy left to seek that).
Here's how it goes: you're clinging to hope with the very last bit of everything you've got. You're dreaming about what it's going to look like if that moment of hope goes well. You're rehearsing in your mind what you're going to say, how you're going to act, what you're going to demand when you get your opportunity to speak for just a second with the real possibility of lifting some of your darkness.
But then, you have a day that's a little better. And then another day that's a little better. And then, you have a day or two that are just great. And then, when that moment of hope that you've been clinging to comes, you...have nothing to say. Everything you've rehearsed doesn't matter any more. Everything you dreamed of doesn't seem that big. You're getting better without it. You're living good right now, and you're getting better and stronger and more settled every day. So your moment comes, your big moment of hope and healing and possibility, and you look it right in the eye and say, "Thanks, but no thanks. I think things are going to be fine."
An hour later, things are not fine any more. Not by a long shot. But you missed your chance at hope and you missed your chance at healing and now, you can't just turn around and say that you lied - who will that make you out to be? You can't just turn around and walk back toward hope; no, now you have to reschedule it. The devil got you right in his trap, and you fell for it and now, you're free-falling deeper into the darkness than you ever were the first time. That hope that was drawing so close is once again so far away, and there's nothing to cling to here.
And that's why the devil is going to give you good days. That's the game he's playing. He doesn't love it when you love your life, but if that's what it takes to get you to forget your need for hope, he'll do it. He'll let you be happy if that temporary happiness will throw you into a deeper pit. All he needs is for you to buy into it, for you to sell your hope for a little relief and give up your moment for the one you've got right now.
That's what I mean when I say that part of the game is knowing how the devil plays it. You have to be aware of how he's working so that you don't give up that moment of hope and healing that you've been waiting for, so that you aren't suckered into a sense of false security and miss your chance to advocate for yourself, to confess your struggles, to ask for and to receive help.
And about that false security....that's another little game he's playing. More on that, tomorrow.
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